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The Yellow War 



■O" 



WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS 

EDINBURGH AND LONDON 

MCM V 



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The Yellow War 



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The Yellow War 



O" 



WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS 

EDINBURGH AND LONDON 

MOM V 



I - 

i 1 



FOEEWORD. 



I 



The following sketches have been published 
with the object of giving the layman some 
glimpses of the true significance of war when 
two first-class Powers come together on sea 
and land in the clash of battle. Of many 
of the incidents related I have been an eye- 
witness. For the rest, I have dealt at first 
hand with the actors themselves. Although 
for the purpose of concealing identity the 
nomenclature is fictitious, yet every char- 
acter in the book' represents some Uving 
actor in the terrific drama with which I 
^ have been intimate during the past year. 

Linguistic difficulties may have made some 

4 



VI FOREWORD. 

of my translations a little free : for this I 
must apologise. 

The majority of the sketches have already 
appeared in ' Blackwood's Magazine/ to the 
proprietors of which I am much indebted. 

The Illustrations have been reproduced 
by the courtesy of the proprietors of * The 
Graphic' 






S2 



CONTENTS. 



<3 



CHAP. 

I. THB BLOCKING OF PORT ARTHUR 
U. A GLIMPSE AT THB BAYAN 

III. THB RAOB FOR PINGTANG 

IV. RIVER-FIGHTING 

V. THB SAORIFIOB OF o'tBRU SAN 
VI. THB FORLORN-HOPB AT KINOHAU 
VU. THB MILITARY TRIUMVIRATE 

vin. A VISIT TO Togo's rendezvous 

IX. THB PATH IN THB BAST IS STRANGE 
X. THE FALL OF THB MIGHTY 
XI. OHAMPIONS 



XII. THB OUTPOST 



Xm. THB BLOOKADB-RUNNBR 



XIV. THB AFFAIR OF THB BRIDGE-GUARD 



PAOS 
1 

10 

19 

28 

35 

51 

65 

72 

79 

117 

134 

143 

149 

168 



• • • 



Vlll CONTENTS. 

XV. THB NAVAL SUB-LIBUTBNANT's STORY 186 

XVI. OF AN OFFIOSR's PATROL . . . 236 

XVII. THE LAST SBRVIOB 252 

xviu. "actum BST DB " .... 265 



LIST OP ILLUSTRATIONS. 



PAOS 

'< BLACK, HISSING, AND BATTERED, THE BOAT WAS 

CLosma ON us like some hideous sea-mon- 
ster" Frontispiece 

THE BAY AN Vignette on Title-page 

"the forts of port ARTHUR WERE FIRING THE 
OUNS WHICH AT NIGHT ARE ALWATS TRAINED 
UPON THE HARBOUR APPROACHES" ... 4 

'^A SALVO OF BURSTING SHELLS DESTROYED THE 

NEAREST pontoons" 44 

<<BT SUNSET THE JAPANESE HAD CARRIED THIS 

work" 64 

"LIKE A PACK OF HOUNDS HIS MEN STREAMED 

DOWN AFTER HIM" 112 

*' TWO OF THE MOST SANGUINARY RUSHES MADE BE- 
FORE THE RUSSIAN COUNTERSTROKE FINALLY 

failed" 136 

"the JAPANESE WERE THROWING PROJECTILES INTO 
US WITH A RAPIDITY OF FIRE THAT WAS ABSOL- 
UTELY appalling" 234 

"it was good FOB HIS MEN AND HORSES TO BE 

BESTED AND FED" ...... 240 



THE YELLOW WAE. 



L 



THE BLOCKING OF PORT ARTHUR. 

Chinampo, April 1904. 

The officer in command of the doomed ship 
stood in front of the wheel with his eyes 
glued upon the deepening base of black 
darkness in front of him. The increasing 
shadow betokened the land he was striving 
to make. Ever and anon he seized the 
night-glass, peered into the thickness, and 
then replaced the glass on the rack. Once 
only did he raise his right hand in signal 
to the dim figure of the man at the wheel. 
All was darkness. The only light was the 
binnacle, and it was so cowled with canvas 

A 



2 THE BLOCKING OF PORT ABTHUR. 

that the figure at the wheel was bending 
over his work to keep his view of the com- 
pass. The slow grind of the half-speed 
engines and the swirl ef displaced water 
was in itself sound enough to render al- 
most unbearable the overpowering feeling 
of silence. 

Suddenly a great flood of light cleft the 
darkness ahead. It was so white and clear 
that the faces of the three men on the 
bridge looked pale and death -like. The 
man at the wheel winced with the stroke 
— it was literally a stroke of light ; but 
the ofl&cer only moved his hand. The 
enemy had defeated their own ends ; they 
had shown him the passage-half a point 
to starboard and the course was true. 
There stood the white stones of the light- 
house which for weeks had surrendered its 
functions to port-bound mariners. 

For the space of perhaps fifteen seconds 
the great white eye penetrating the dark- 
ness was fixed full upon the boat. It 



THE BLOCKING OF PORT ARTHUR. 3 

winked irresolutely, flashed upwards, then 
down again, away to starboard, until the 
elliptical base of the fearsome cone of 
light was well abeam. Then back it came 
and glared savagely full upon the steamer, 
silently closing down upon it* It looked 
long and steadfastly, and, as suddenly as 
it had come, it was cut off. All was dark 
and dreadful again. But only for a second. 
A long meteor-like rocket shot up from the 
centre of the great overpowering mass 
ahead. Its sinuous course closed in a mass 
of sparks. It was as if the torch had 
been applied to the piece de resistance of 
some great firework display. In a moment 
what was darkness became a semicircle of 
scintillating light. The great beam of the 
Golden Hill searchlight leapt into life. It 
was supported by a score of lesser search- 
lights from the foremasts of the ships in 
harbour. But there were other lights — 
lightning flashes from the breast of the 
mountain, which at intervals the acute 



4 THE BLOCKINa OF PORT ARTHUR. 

beams of the searchlights revealed — ^flashes 
which seared the gloom and vanished. 
Within a moment's space after this blaze 
of light came the ominous rattle which 
discovered its origin. The forts of Port 
Arthur were firing the guns which at night 
are always trained upon the harbour ap- 
proaches. The tumult was deafening. The 
great bare flanks of the mountains behind 
caught up the deadly roll of discharging 
quick-firers, and flung the sound back in 
mocking reverberation. But that was not 
the worst sound. The hissing rush of pro- 
jectiles, the ear-splitting swish as they 
struck the water and exploded, or shrieked 
in ricochet overhead — in a moment the 
tension bred of apprehensive darkness had 
changed to an inferno of modern war. 

The man at the wheel bent his head for- 
ward with the impulse of a man meeting 
a storm. But the officer never moved 
aught but his directing hand. The ever 
appearing and disappearing arc of the 



4 I 



THE BLOCKING OF PORT ARTHUR. 5 

searchlights gave him his point, and he 
steered directly upon it, while the four 
men crouching at the lifeboat falls, and 
sweating engine-room volunteers, wondered 
when the whistle would sound to call them 
on deck from the chance of the most awful 
death to which mariners live exposed — 
death from the escape of disabled boilers ! 
For a moment from amidst the circle of 
flashes, low down on the port-bow of the 
doomed ship, a smaller searchlight showed. 
It seemed to break up from the very water- 
level. It was the flashlight of a destroyer. 
At last the Japanese officer gave evidence 
of sensibility to the Hades which sur- 
rounded him. He had brought his ship 
far enough into the passage. The beam 
in front told him that the enemy would do 
the rest. He blew the whistle which his 
teeth had almost bitten flat. In a second 
the men manned the falls of the lifeboat, 
while the petty officer responsible for the 
igniting of the bursting charge in the 



6 THE BLOCKING OF PORT ARTHUR, 

vessers hold dropped down the hatchway 
to the point where his duty lay. 

" Port, hard a-port ! " the officer was now 
fairly gesticulating. As her head came 
slowly round a heavy shell hit her forward. 
So great was the impact of this metal stroke 
that for a moment it nullified the eflTorts of 
the helm, and flung the officer and man at 
the wheel from their feet, while the men 
at the falls became a woeful heap in the 
scuppers. Then another shock. This was 
different. It was as if an earthquake had 
struck her : as if some great monster of 
the deep had seized her in its tentacles 
and shaken her. Instantaneously the en- 
gines stopped. If the officer could have 
seen them, he would have found that they 
were twisted out of all semblance of sym- 
metry. A torpedo had struck her amid- 
ships, and had brought her mechanical 
movement to a standstill. She would not 
even answer her helm. And in spite of 
the inferno below, an unending hell of pro- 



THE BLOCKING OF PORT ARTHUR. 7 

jectiles tore the darkness above. Again 
the whistle sounded — three times in long 
shrill notes. It was the order to take to 
the boat. As the men slipped down the 
ropes the base of the after-mast and smoke- 
stack were swept out of her by shell-fire. 
In the boat the oflScer stood up and counted 
his men. There should have been fifteen. 
One was missing. "It is the petty officer 
in the hold ! '* the word was passed along. 
In a moment the officer had swung himself 
up to the deck again ; and as the boat's 
crew waited, the man with the boat-hook 
could feel the inches sinking, as the ship 
settled. Then a three -inch shell took 
the boat-hook out of his hand, and, to 
save her from drifting, he had to jump up 
and hold on to the slack fall. Again the 
light of the destroyer was on them, and 
the quick-firing projectiles clanged and 
hissed against the vessel's iron sides with 
the tumult and continuity of hammers in 
iron-foundry works. 



8 THE BLOCKING OF PORT ARTHUR. 

The officer was at the rail again. 

Had the petty officer returned ? No ! 
The officer disappeared back to the hold. 
A giant hissing from the engine-room told 
him that the water would soon reach the 
boilers. It was hopeless. The petty officer 
must have been killed by the concussion of 
the Russian torpedo. The officer was on 
deck again. The ship was listing heavily. 
He shouted to his men in the boat, now 
hanging on in momentary terror of being 
engulfed in the wash of the sinking ship. 
His foot was on the rail, when the destroyer 
reopened with its quick-firer. A shell took 
him in the neck and shoulder, and, bursting 
on impact, carried this brave man's head 
and brains away with it. His mutilated 
trunk fell forward amongst his anxious men 
struggling to keep the boat on. For a 
moment they did not know that he was 
dead. He was aboard> They pushed off, 
and as they handled the oars gave a cheer. 
Then they discovered that it was the warm 



THE BLOCKING OF PORT ARTHUR. 9 

thick life's -blood of their chief and not the 
spume of the sea which had made them so 
wet in the darkness. They were three 
lengths away when the water reached the 
boilers. A rush of steam, a report that 
dwarfed the raging gun-fire, and the Fuhui 
Maru rolled over and settled just in the 
place which her oflficer. Commander Hirose 
of the imperial Japanese navy, had chosen. 
And three other tragedies similar to this 
were taking place in the narrow channel of 
Port Arthur's harbour entrance this very 
night. 



10 



11. 



A GLIMPSE AT THE "BAYAN." 

Aptnl 1904. 

The rear-admiral and his flag-captain had 
been on the bridge the whole night. It was 
miserable weather : the wind had veered 
round towards the north, and in spite of 
the promise of spring which the last fort- 
night had given, the sleet from the squalls 
was as icy as that of a mid-winter blizzard. 

Every quarter of an hour the navigating 
lieutenant made his way to the bridge to 
apprise the admiral of the position of the 
squadron. Half an hour ago the first signs 
of approaching dawn had cut into the gloom 
in the east, but the squalls had rolled up 
again and practically nullified the first 
efibrts of awakening day, — so much so 



A GLIMPSE AT THE " BAYAN. 11 

that it was impossible to make out even 
the outline of the vessel following the 
flag-ship, although it was only two cable- 
lengths astern. For one moment the navi- 
gating lieutenant turned on the little read- 
ing-lamp on the bridge, which gave sufficient 
shrouded light to enable the admiral to 
follow the markings on the chart. The 
admiral glanced at the pencil-marks, then 
looked at the clock. He nodded his head, 
with the single remark, "We are in the 
right place"; in a moment the little light 
was extinfifuished, and all was darkness. 

ThethJ^.enp^^redan^ous.yio.othe 
murky mist -cloud on the port -beam, — the 
haze of the driving rain-storm was still 
very thick. Something seemed to catch 
the navigating lieutenant's ear, for he left 
the senior officers and made his way to the 
starboard rail ; for two minutes he remained 
motionless, the pose of his body indicating 
rapt attention. He seemed satisfied, for on 
moving back to the others he whispered 



« « A ^r A i^T »» 



12 A GLIMPSE AT THE " BAYAN. 

something in the admiral's ear, and all three 
officers went over to the rail. There was 
no doubt about it now. The wind which 
had brought the squall dropped as suddenly 
as it had risen, and the low muffled murmur 
which heralds firing at sea could be dis- 
tinctly heard above the wash that the vessel 
made, as she drove her way through the 
water. 

The squall had passed, and almost im- 
mediately the increased vigour of returning 
day forced itself superior to the shadows of 
vanishing night. What had been black now 
became the dull grey of a humid mid-ocean 
morning. The great mysterious shadows of 
the ships astern picked themselves out from 
the surrounding mists, while even the low 
hulls of the wicked -looking little torpedo 
craft, on either flank, began to show as 
indistinct masses against the false horizon. 
As day dawned the sound of firing seemed 
to increase. Now it was quite distinct — a 
rattle of quick-firers burning ammunition 



A GLIMPSE AT THE " BAYAN, IS 

in deadly earnest. The torpedo craft had 
heard it too, for suddenly the three indis- 
tinct blotches which betokened the vessels 
on the starboard beam put up their helms 
and disappeared into the mist. It was too 
thick yet to make a flag- signal, so the 
admiral stood on his course. 

As one looked down from the bridge it 
seemed that the flag-ship was some ghostly 
death-ship. Everything was lean and gaunt 
and silent'; there was no movement, save 
where the rain -wash trickled over into the 
scuppers; few men could be seen, and of 
these each stood motionless to his quarters. 

It was a depressing sight. There is 
probably nothing in this world so oppress- 
ive as the appearance of the modern war- 
ship fined down to the actual requisites of 
slaughter as she appears from the bridge 
on a cold grey morning, with ofl&cers and 
crew strained by waiting for that moment 
in which the vessel shall commence to put 
in practice the desperate object of her 



(( X«A-«rA-^T " 



14 A GLIMPSE AT THE " BAYAN. 

existence. If this strain were to be con- 
tinuous it would be more than the most 
magnificent nerves in human nature could 
support. Such is the state at dawn, but 
daybreak generally brings relief. So it is 
in this case. 

The torpedo-boats had hardly been absent 
five minutes before they were back again, 
and the leading boat steamed in close 
alongside the flag -ship. Six, eight, five 
little flags fluttered out from its apology 
for a mast. The navigating lieutenant had 
gone below, but the signalman read them 
in spite of the mist ; the admiral looked at 
his flag-captain and they both smiled. The 
expression of the smile was that of a man 
who had played for a high stake and won. 
The admiral said three words, and the 
flag-captain passed them on to the signal- 
man, — up fluttered the answering pennant, 
and a second later the message was hoisted 
beneath it. Other little pennants appeared 
on each of the dumpy masts of the torpedo 



A GLIMPSE AT THE " BAYAN. 15 

craft, and they disappeared full steam 
ahead. 

It was now quite light, and the mist 
very rapidly cleared, disclosing the squad- 
ron of cruisers, line ahead, forging forward 
at just sufficient speed to keep them upon 
their course. The senior officers of the 
flag-ship still stood grouped on the star- 
board rail. It was now broad daylight, 
and the wind changed suddenly to the 
west: as it changed it rolled up patches' 
of the fog, so that almost in the time that 
it would have taken to cross the bridge a 
grey stretch of open sea was visible 
towards the north. The four officers on 
the bridge saw a heavy pall of smoke at 
the same moment, — that tell-tale smoke 
which is proof of cheap coal in the stoke- 
hole. The wind cleared it, as it had 
cleared the mist. The flag-lieutenant was 
the first to speak. "One, two, three, 
four," he said as he counted the smoke- 
stacks; **that is the Bay an J^ 



Utjattaxt" 



16 A GLIMPSE AT THE " BAYAN. 

The Russian made the squadron out at 
the same moment, for the black smudge of 
her hull against the horizon was pierced by 
the lurid yellow of burning cordite. There 
were a few seconds, during which the 
officers on the bridge stood erect from the 
stooping position which had been theirs 
when gazing into the haze, — then came a 
rushing, swishing sound, the terrifying 
screech of projectiles in passage through 
the air. Two hurtled overhead, while a 
third, falling short, exploded upon impact 
with the water, and sent a great salt spray 
driving across the bridge. The Bayan is a 
handy vessel ; but all the skilful manoeuv- 
ring in the world could not have saved her 
if she had persevered in action against six 
cruisers. But to get away there were just 
a few seconds when she had to show her 
broadside. She did it bravely, the yellow 
flashes sparkling up and down the whole 
length of her lean hull. The flag-captain 
was at the speaking-tube, and as the 



A GLIMPSE AT THE " BAYAN." IT 

Russian turned, quiver after quiver shook 
the bridge. The ear-splitting reports 
which followed showed how the flag-ship 
took advantage of the broader target. Not 
only the flag-ship, for the signalmen were 
busy at the halyards ; and as the admiral 
glanced sternwards he saw behind him a 
flickering line of yellow flashes, proof 
positive that each of his captains had read 
his signal. As for the Bayan^ it looked for 
all the world as if she were the centre of 
a shoal of spouting whales. Great geysers 
of water seemed to splash almost as high 
as her smoke-stacks, and from the burst of 
those projectiles which made their contact 
it would seem that the vessel was bound to 
be destroyed. But, as already remarked, 
she is a handy craft. Only a few seconds 
of this fearful ordeal, and then her four 
funnels seemed to disappear into one, and 
she was making the best of her 22-knots 
speed to Port Arthur. No ignoble flight, 
for her stern still gave evidence of her 

B 



1 



« T> A «r A -VT '' 



18 A GLIMPSE AT THE " BAYAN. 

sting, and in rapid succession three great 
projectiles ricochetted high over the flag- 
ship. For a moment the admiral had it in 
his mind to make the signal to pursue ; but 
he remembered his orders, and the squad- 
ron stood steadily on at half-speed. The 
wind rolled up another squall, and the 
Bayan was lost to sight almost as rapidly 
as she had appeared. 



19 



III. 

THE RACE FOR PINGYANG. 

Chinampo, April 1904. 

For the twentieth time that morning the 
column came to a halt. It was a repeti- 
tion of the wearisome blocks _ which had 
delayed the troops since daybreak : the 
wind was too boisterous and the snow too 
heavy for any one to hear an order. The 
files behind simply took their cue from the 
files in front of them. As each particular 
four came to a standstill the men turned 
their backs to the teeth of the blizzard. 
Thus when his turn came Private Kawada 
turned with them. The men immediately 
placed their rifles between their knees and 
did their best to resuscitate the circulation 
in their hands. One or two of the files, 



20 THE KACE FOR PINGYANO. 

recking nothing of the state of the ground 
beneath them, and borne down by the 
weight of accoutrements and skin coats, 
heavy and saturated, dropped to their 
knees, Kawada took off his left mitten 
and put his fingers in his mouth in the 
hope that he might get back some little 
warmth into the extremities. How differ- 
ent it all was to what he had expected 
when he had first been mobilised in Tokyo ! 
How different his sensations now to what 
they were when his corps had marched to 
the Shimbashi station! Then he had felt 
there was no hardship in fighting for one's 
country, it all seemed so easy and pleasant. 
He looked round at his three more intimate 
companions in hardship ; their faces were 
the colour of the parchment of a drum 
discoloured by age and ill-usage. Some 
of them were literally green with cold, 
and the state of the ground they were 
crossing was such that the very clothes 
which were intended to protect them 



THE RACE FOR PINGYANG. 21 

seemed, in their weight and soddenness, 
their worst enemies. When they had de- 
barked from the transport the men had 
landed singing. They had all sung patri- 
otic songs as they marched into their first 
bivouac, but that was days ago, and at 
the present moment there seemed to be 
none left who had the heart or spirit to 
sing. 

An officer passed down the line : he was 
riding a shoddy little pony which looked 
as if twenty-four hours must see the finish 
of its lease of life. This officer shouted to 
the right-hand files that there would be a 
halt of half an hour. As the men heard 
this they wrapped the flap of their coats 
tighter round the locks of their rifles and, 
just as they stood, flung themselves down 
in the sleet-slush. One of the more enter- 
prising in the group, of which Kawada now 
found himself the centre, had carried, slung 
to the end of his rifle, a small perforated 
tobacco- tin containing an inch or two of 



22 THE RACE FOR PINGYANG. 

live charcoal. This primitive heater was 
passed from hand to hand, men even press- 
ing it against their cheeks in the endeavour 
to persuade some artificial heat into their 
systems. 

Kawada crouched down in the snow- 
morass, and if he had not been a true 
Japanese, imbued with the sense that 
whatever service done as a national duty 
was a light service, he would have wished 
— as so many thousands, comprising all 
known nationalities of the world, have 
wished before him — that he had never 
been a soldier. To keep dry or warm was 
out of the question, but by huddling close 
together some protection was afforded from 
the cutting wind and a little collective 
animal heat arrived at. And so tired, so 
weary, and so cold were the men that 
they even, in spite of their bitter situa- 
tion, dozed off. 

Kawada's thoughts turned to Tokyo : he 
thought of the pleasant garden in Aoyama 



THE RACE FOR PINGYANG. 23 

which, from all precedent, should by now 
have begun to give evidence of that spring 
life upon which is founded the whole 
artistic virtue of Japan. He thought of 
the last evening that he had spent in 
Shimbashi, of the well-lighted and warm 
rooms of the fashionable tea-house and the 
delicacies in fried eels and rice, of the 
bright eyes of the peerless Hoorji as she 
knelt in front of him ; in fact, he thought 
of all the pleasures of the luxurious life 
he had left behind him. And in com- 
parison what was his state now ? Perished 
with cold, nauseated with the taste of the 
glutinous stale rice which he carried in the 
little wicker-basket attached to his belt; 
miserable and friendless save for his com- 
panions in misfortune around him, and, for 
all he knew, forgotten, but — and here the 
great heart of the Japanese people welled 
up in him — it was all being suffered, all 
being endured, in the service of Japan, in 
the service of the country which was 



24 THE HACE FOR PlNGYANO. 

destined, perhaps even in Kawada's time, 
to be the greatest Power in Asia. 

There was some movement ahead; the 
men in the preceding files were rising to 
their feet; Kawada's section followed suit, 
and in another three minutes the whole 
force was plodding wearily onward, 
squelching into the teeth of the northern 
blizzard. Thus they pushed on, miserable, 
weary, and footsore, the tiny little ad- 
vance-guard of the great enterprise which 
Japan had undertaken to the astonishment 
of the world. Just 300 men, battling with 
the adverse elements, to reach Pingyang. 
In front of them they had the might of 
the great Russian Empire of the north. 
Just 300 men ! what if the Russians should 
have been before them in this race for the 
all-important goal ? What could 300 men 
expect to do if the great army of Cossacks 
should already have overrun Korea ? The 
snow-clouds ahead obliterated all that was 
in front of them ; in fact, at times it was 



THE RACE FOR PIKGYANG. 25 

almost impossible for them to see the road 
by which they were travelling. But they 
knew what they had behind them : they 
were the advance-guard of the army which, 
if the necessity should arise, would consist 
of 500,000 men ; of the nation which, be- 
fore it would acknowledge defeat, would 
find 20 millions of men prepared to enter 
upon a more desperate enterprise even than 
that in which this little advance-guard was 
now engaged. If Pingyang were reached 
in time, what would past hardships 
matter? what would it signify that the 
road from Hai-ju to Pingyang was strewn 
with the bodies of the weaklings from the 

forlorn-hope ? 

• •••••■• 

A week later all was forgotten. Ka- 
wada and his companions lay in the 
snow trenches north of Pingyang. They 
cooked their rice themselves, and were 
able, when not on duty, to sit round a 
bowl of smouldering charcoal and watch 



26 THE RACE FOR PINGYANG. 

behind them the great black line windmg 
its way through the snowdrifts, which 
declared the head of Kuroki's army as it 
marched up to occupy the position which 
the advance-guard had seized. And as 
Kawada gazed out across the miles of 
white in front of him he ceased to 
speculate as to the chances of Hoorji 
having found another lover : his only 
thought for the moment was when the 
rifle, which he nursed so carefully under 
the flap of his fur -lined coat, would be 
called upon to do its duty. And that 
very morning, as he leaned upon the 
parapet, far away in the north he made 
out a few black specks standing out in 
bold relief against the snow. He called 
a sergeant, and together through glasses 
they examined the suspicious spots. They 
were coming up from under a rise. More 
and more appeared, until at least the total 
reached twenty, and as they came nearer 
the magnify ing-glasses unmasked the tell- 



THE RACE FOR PINGYANG. 27 

tale lance-poles. These specks were the 
first messengers from the great Power of 
the north. They were the advance-guard 
of six sotnias of Cossacks detailed to seize 
and hold Pingyang. 

In less than an hour Kawada's rifle 
burnt the first cartridge in the land 
struggle of the Russo-Japanese war. 



3 RIVER-FIGHTING. 

Half a mile ahead a great bank jutted 
out across their course; on the far side of 
this he could make out a lateen sail similar 
to their own. As soon as the fisherman 
saw it his chattering redoubled, and in the 
anxiety of his desire to communicate to the 
lieutenant he let go the sheet. All Japanese 
objurgations are polite, and feeling that he 
had nothing in his vocabulary to meet the 
case, the little lieutenant rescued the sheet 
with his right hand and brought the boat 
up to the wind again himself, while with 
his left he belaboured the steersman. 

They had to make a considerable detour 
before they could round the obstacle in 
front of them, but once they were clear 
they found that they were half a mile away 
from the junk, the sight of which had so 
agitated the Korean. As a rule, in these 
waters fishermen do not carry arms, and 
the first thing the lieutenant made out, 
when he got a clear sight of the strange 
craft, was the glint of the morning sun on 



RIVBR-FIGHTING. 31 

rifles. Had a Japanese boat's crew ever 
had such luck before? The little officer 
smiled all over his face as he communicated 
the jojrful tidings to his men — here indeed 
was a situation; a primitive sea fight on 
the racing waters of the Yalu. The Korean 
steersman saw the glint of the rifles at the 
same moment; the sight did not fill him 
with similar enthusiasm, and he settled aU 
doubt that had hitherto possessed him as 
to the safety of the mission by abandoning 
the tiller and jumping overboard. For a 
moment the thought of the death penalty 
flashed across the little lieutenant's mind, 
and his hand instinctively closed on the 
butt of his revolver; but he had no use 
for cowards, dead or alive, so with a loud 
laugh he himself took the tiller, and, pulling 
the sheet taut, bore down upon the Rus- 
sian junk. 

Nor were the Russians refusing. If they 
had had any misgivings as to the identity 
of the Japanese boat, these were dispelled 



32 RIVER-FIGHTING. 

as one of the bluejackets rove on to the hal- 
yards the emblem of the rising sun, so that 
it fluttered out above the lateen sail. The 
rival commanders must have given the 
ranges to their men simultaneously, for the 
smack of the small-bore rifles of both burst 
out together. The Russians stood off a 
couple of points so as to bring more rifles 
to bear. The range was now 500 yards. 
The Russian shots whizzed overhead, sang 
through the rigging, ripped tiny holes in 
the sail, and splintered the planks of the 
lofty bow. The Japanese answered deliber- 
ately, — the little lieutenant, with his foot 
on the tiller, the sheet in his right hand, 
and his glasses in his left, directing the fire. 
Fifteen minutes of this, and suddenly the 
sail of the Russian junk went aback, round 
came her ponderous prow. She had had 
enough. The breeze again caught her great 
sail, and she headed up with the tide. The 
lieutenant reduced his firing strength by 
two as he ordered two bluejackets to man 



RIVER-FIGHTING. 33 

the junk's stern-sweep : himself, he never 
moved either his foot from the tiUer or his 
hand from the sheet, even though a bullet 
carried the glasses out of his left hand and 
scored a great sear in his forearm : he was 
going to have that junk, or perish in the 
attempt. The Russian commander evi- 
dently thought so too, for he only stood 
upon his new course long enough to see 
that the smaller vessel was overhauling 
him, when he put his helm over and headed 
for a sandbank. In three minutes she was 
aground, and her crew of nine soldiers 
wading to the shore. This gave the 
Japanese bluejackets their opportunity. 
They rested their rifles on the gunwale 
and let the magazines do their best. The 
water round the Russians became as agitated 
as the surface of a pond in a hailstorm. 
But the men made good their passage to 
the shore, and, opening out, doubled to the 
summit of the dune. The lieutenant brought 
his boat up alongside the abandoned junk, 

c 



34 MVBR-FIGHTING. 

and as his men made it fast they found in 
the corpses of two Russians the evidence of 
their good shooting ; but they had not time 
to apprise the value of their capture, for it 
was up and into the water in pursuit. By 
this time the Russians had taken up a 
position to oppose a landing, and as the 
bluejackets waded to the sandbank they in 
their turn suffered the ordeal of a concen- 
trated fire. But they reached the shore, 
and were advancing to the attack when 
suddenly they descried two more junks 
bearing down upon them from the extremity 
of the bank. 

There is a limit to the odds which even a 
junior naval lieutenant dare encounter, so 
the youth doubled his men back to the 
water, and pushed both the junks off: at 
least, if he could not complete his skirmish, 
he would carry off the spoils of war. 



35 



V. 



THE SACEIFICE OF O'TERU SAN. 

May 1904. 

A BOY and girl sat on a steep grass slope 
in a Japanese garden. The boy, who wore 
the apron aflfected by students, was talking 
earnestly — far too earnestly for his years, 
we in the West would have thought. 
The girl, whose kimono and paper sun- 
shade formed the only coloured relief to 
a background of fresh emerald green, was 
listening with downcast eyes. 

"It is no use, O'Teru San," the youth 
said, almost mournfully ; " I shall have to 
work like a common coolie, for we have 
not the money to continue my education." 
The maid oflTered no comment to this state- 
ment, and the boy continued the recital 



36 THE SACRIFICE OF o'tERU SAN. 

of his troubles. " It is very, very hard," 
he said, **that I should have come from a 
family of princes, and have now to do 
menial work in order that I may live, — 
perhaps even be obliged to serve foreigners 
in some low capacity, and profess myself 
obedient to people whom I despise. To 
think of it, OTeru San ! from to-morrow 
I shall go to the College no more, and from 
the next day will be apprenticed to an 
artisan. I, who, as befits one of my station, 
next year was to go to the military school 
to become an officer ; and now, just because 
my father has speculated badly in some 
foreign enterprise, I must give up all 
thought of the future and live in the pre- 
sent — a coolie ! " 

The youth cast himself over on his side, 
and although his companion did not look 
up, yet she knew that his brown eyes had 
filled with tears. There was a brief silence, 
during which Teru San was making up her 



THE SACRIFICE OF o'tBRU SAN. 37 

mind. Although to our Western ideas she 
was but a child, yet here in the East those 
whom we would still opine children have, 
in their teens, reached a mental state 
which we call maturity. The cruel fate 
which seemed about to ruin her companion's 
ambitions hurt her as deeply as if a bann 
had been placed upon herself. She also 
had her own ambitions. But her hopes 
for the future were bound up in the success 
or failure of this youthful student who had 
been in her life ever since she could remem- 
ber. Personally, also, she did not wish to 
be the wife of a carpenter or a 'ricksha 
coolie. 

" Is there no way ? " she said ; ** will not 
your relations do something for you?'' She 
turned and put her hand upon the shoulder 
of the prostrate student. He shook his 
head mournfully. In a moment the girl 
made up her mind. " Then Teru San will 
do something for you. O'Tanaka San, go 



38 THE SACBIFICE OP o'tBRU SAN. 

back to the school to-morrow. I will find 

the money." 

• ••••••• 

There was a grand entertainment at the 
Mitsui Club. The resident members of this 
great and exclusive family were giving a 
farewell send-oflP to a batch of officers of the 
Imperial Guard who were due to leave 
Tokyo on the following morning to join the 
transports collected in the Inland Sea. For 
the purpose of this entertainment the ten 
most popular Geishas in Tokyo had been 
retained. 

The evening was half-way through, and 
the young men, grouped in easy attitudes 
around the room, were satiated with the 
ordinary efforts at female dancing. " Where 
is OTeru San ? " somebody shouted ; others 
took up the cry and clapped their hands. 
A screen at the far end of the room was 
pushed aside; the little frail figure ap- 
peared in the opening. It was Teru San. 
She fell on her knees and bowed to the 



THE SACEIFIGE OF 0*TBRU SAN. 3d 

ground, a43 is the etiquette on such oc- 
casions. Then she stood up in all her glory 
of gold and grey. A perfect round of ap- 
plause greeted her, for at the moment she 
was the idol of young Tokyo. Even to the 
European estimate she was beautiful, — to 
young Tokyo, peerless. She glided in to 
the centre of the room, radiant in the 
knowledge of her success, magnificent in 
the blending colours of her finery, and she 
danced as young Tokyo had never seen a 
Geisha dance before. Her figure finished, 
she stepped down among the audience 
and gracefully acknowledged the congrat- 
ulations which were heaped upon her. 
Surely this girl was happy, if the happi- 
ness of a Geisha is to be judged by popu- 
larity. Daintily she took the little china 
cups which were offered her ; modestly she 
pressed them to her lips, just tasting the 
contents. Then they pleaded with her to 
dance again. All smiles, she retired to the 
stage, and gave a representation in grace- 



40 THE SACRIFICE OF 0*TBRU SAN. 

ful movements of some old ballad of love 
and war, such as young Tokyo adored. 
Then, bowing low, she passed again be- 
hind the screen. And as the sound of 
the applause died in her ears, so did the 
smile of happiness from her face. Hastily 
she changed her kimono^ and called for 
the jinricksha which was waiting for her 
in the courtyard. 

It was a bitter night for poor Teru 
San; she was going now to meet her 
lover for the last time — for Tanaka, a 
lieutenant in the Imperial Guards, was 
also leaving in the morning to meet the 
Kussians. 

Such was the history of Teru San. 
When she had come to her resolution to 
find the money with which her lover was 
to be educated, she had gone straightway 
and sold herself — as many hundreds of 
other Japanese girls have done in simUar 
circumstances — to the master of some tea- 
house. The house which she had selected 



THE SACRIFICE OF o'tERU SAN. 41 

had been owned by a man who, long 
trained in the art, had seen the com- 
mercial value of the dainty little lass who 
falteringly offered to sign the indentures. 
He had paid a sufficient sum in cash to 
ensure the first year's fees of Tanaka's 
education; the successful Teru San's out- 
side earnings had supplied the rest. Thus 
supported, her lover had passed from one 
grade to another, until now he was a 
dashing subaltern in the Guards. All 
that the young couple were waiting for 
was the day when the tea - house ransom 
should be paid in full, and Teru San free 
of her strange obligations. We of the 
West cannot understand this : in the East 
it is different. 

The leading company had been lying 
under the cover of a sand-dune since day- 
break. The men were becoming restless : 
behind them they could hear the even 
rhythm of the three batteries of artillery 



42 THE SACRIFICE OF o'tERU SAN. 

which were endeavouring to silence the 
Russian guns on the far side of the river, 
and ever and anon some projectile would 
whistle angrily above their heads, or, bury- 
ing itself in front of them, would throw 
great showers of sand into their ranks. 
The men were getting restless at the 
delay which kept them from carrying out 
their orders. These orders were engraven 
in each man's heart, — for such is the 
system of the Japanese : when possible 
each man in the army, from the general 
of division to the humblest stretcher- 
bearer, knows exactly what is to be ex- 
pected of him during the ensuing day, as 
far as the general staff can calculate the 
function of any particular unit. 

This regiment of the Guards had orders 
to lie under cover as near as possible to 
the foot of the bridge which the sappers 
were constructing, and as soon as the 
structure was worthy, to push across it 
and turn the Russians from their positions 



THE SACRIFICE OF o'TERU SAN. 43 

on the far side of the river. Since two 
o'clock in the morning they had been 
lying there, and it was now past mid-day 
and yet the bridge was not complete. 
Tanaka had crept up to his captain's side, 
and together they had crawled to the top 
of the sand - dune and watched the pro- 
grwB which the sappers were making. It 
seemed now that almost the last pontoon 
had been floated down. The little engin- 
eers were working like demons on the 
bridge - head, and as they worked the 
water all round the pontoons seemed 
alive with bursting shells. Time after 
time the men working on the hawsers 
were swept away, and as the cord passed 
from their lifeless grasp there were other 
willing hands ready to take it. There 
was no time to care for dead or wounded, 
there was no room for either on the pon- 
toons, a man down was a man lost, and 
it served the interests of the State better 
to push his body into the boiling stream 



44 THE SACRIFICE OF o'tERU SAN. 

rather than hamper the bridge -way with 
doctors and hospital attendants. For the 
fifth time that morning a salvo of burst- 
ing shells destroyed the nearest pontoons, 
carrying the working-party away with it. 
Yet, nothing daunted, fresh pontoons were 
pushed off and floated down, and a fresh 
company of sappers was there to lash the 
stanchions tight. 

"They will never do it," said the 
captain, as it seemed that the latest 
effort had failed. " See, they are bring- 
ing down reinforcements from the bluff 
above us." It was true, — a column of 
Russian infantry was debouching from 
behind the hills on the opposite bank of 
the river, and was moving down to the 
threatening bridge. The Japanese gunners 
had seen them, and almost immediately 
the column was torn and shattered with 
bursting shell, but this counter was not 
sufiicient to stay the Russian advance. 
Down the infantry pressed towards the 



THE SACRIFICE OF o'tERU SAN. 45 

water's edge ; so near were they that the 
Guardsmen could make out the glint of 
the individual bayonets as they glistened 
in the mid-day sun. 

"Now is our time," shouted Tanaka; 
" see, here come our orders." A staff officer 
galloped up ; as he came, the two officers 
could see that the last pontoon had floated 
into its place, and that by wading it 
would be possible for the infantry to 
dash across. The staff officer shouted his 
orders — " Bridge-head ! Guards, column of 
fours from the right." 

The suspense was over. In a moment 
the battalion was on its feet, and Tanaka 
was racing with the men of the leading 
section for the bridge. They felt the 
pontoon sway under their feet — they 
jumped from side to side to avoid the 
mangled frames of dead and wounded 
sappers. A shell tore up the planks in 
front of them, and spattered them with 
the blood and flesh of some luckless 



46 THE SACRIFICE OF o'tEBU SAN. 

engineer. Through the cloud of smoke 
Tanaka could see that some of his men 
fell in the holes, others were hit. Now 
they are at the actual bridge-head, thirty 
yards of water, how deep, how shallow, 
who could say ! All that they could see 
were the bayonets of the opposing Rus- 
sians. They were almost down to the 
water's edge. Tanaka was the first at the 
actual bridge-head; what had happened 
to his captain he did not know. With 
one shout of " Banzai ! " he leapt into the 
water, and all that he realised was that 
the men were leaping in beside him. 
For a moment it was waist-deep, then it 
was knee-deep, and now they are on dry 
land. 

Of the next five minutes who shall 
speak accurately ? All that Tanaka knew 
was that the sword-blade, which had been 
in his famUy for four hundred years, 
clashed roughly against a bayonet, and 
then fleshed true and hard. The impetus 



THE SAOBIFICE OP o'tERU SAN. 47 

from the slope above bore him and his 
companions back, but they made a stand 
at the water's edge, and that stand was 
suflBcient to save the bridge-head. Com- 
pany after company came splashing through 
the water, and soon the Russians were 
taking the steel in the back. It was a 
horrible m^Ue; and when Tanaka really 
came to his senses, he waa trying to 
form up his company amid the smoking 
guns of a captured Russian battery, while 
a corporal, chattering with excitement, was 
binding up his arm with a first field dress- 
ing. Until this moment he had not even 
known that he was wounded. 

There was no paper printed in Japanese 
which did not ring with the heroism of 
Lieutenant Tanaka of the Guards. There 
was hardly a shop-window in Tokyo which 
had not a coloured picture detailing the 
Lieutenant's heroism at the passage of the 
Yalu. For the moment there was no more 



48 THE SACRIFICE OF o'tERU SAN. 

honoured name in all Japan. There was 
no woman in all the many islands, which 
comprise the Far Eastern Empire, prouder 
than the little white-skinned Geisha, Teru 
San. Now her self - sacrifice seemed as 
nothing. Whatever it might have cost, 
she had enabled her lover, not only to win 
his ambition, but also to place himself in 
the history of his country. 

She had been making her toilet since 
four in the afternoon, for that very day 
Tanaka, the wounded hero, had returned 
to Tokyo. Even as she sat, rubbing the 
powder on her cheeks, she could hear the 
shouts of the crowd which were according 
him a public welcome. It was meet that 
she should look her best, for to-day was 
to be the greatest day in her life. 

The telephone bell rang. Anxiously she 
waited for the message. Surely it could 
not be Tanaka ; it was too soon ; he had 
not yet had time to think of her. She was 
right — it was only a message from the big 



THE SACRIFICE OF o'tERU SAN. 49 

rich American who, for the last two months, 
had been lavishing his attentions upon her, 
and who was now reduced to such a state 
that he had offered to ransom her at what- 
ever price her master might name, if only 
she would consent to marry him and return 
with him to the States. A foreigner for- 
sooth ! And Teru San told the maid to 
tell the foreigner that she was ill, that she 
was out of business for an indefinite period 
until she should be again convalescent. 
She then sat quietly in her room and 
waited : it was possibly the happiest ex- 
pectation in the whole of her strange and 
chequered life. 

But her hero never came, even though 
she waited until the small hours of the 
morning. ** He is in the hospital," she 
said to herself; "I shall hear from him 
to-morrow." But the morrow brought no 
message, and so it went on from day to 
day, from week to week, until it was 
announced in the * Kokomin Shimbun ' that 

D 



50 THE SACRIFICE OF o'tBRU SAN. 

the hero Tanaka, decorated by the Em- 
peror, and now employed on the General 
Staff, was betrothed to a daughter of 
the quality. 

.......a 

And so it came about that Teru San may 
be the mother of American citizens. 



51 



VL 



THE FORLORN- HOPE AT KINCHAU. 

Ohefoo, Jwm 1904. 

Three Japanese infantrymen leant with 
their backs against a greasy sea -rock, 
which raised its slimy crest four feet 
above the level of the water. The three 
little men were in luck, since they were 
able to rest their rifles on the rock, while 
the less fortunate of - their companions, 
waist-deep in the water, were wearied to 
death in keeping the breeches of their 
pieces out of the brine. The three seemed 
entirely indiflferent to the discomfort of 
their surroundings, though the whole com- 
pany had been wading in the mud -flats 
for the last three hours, and was now 
halted in a deep pool formed in a sand 



52 THE FORLORN-HOPE AT KINCHAU. 

depression. They were engaged in a com- 
parison of their experiences during the last 
twelve hours. To the Western soldier the 
experiences of a lifetime would have been 
covered in the short space of time taken 
by the 4th Division of the Imperial 
Japanese army to carry at the point of 
the bayonet the walled town of Kinchau. 
To the Japanese soldiers it was but a de- 
lightful incident in the service which their 
country required of them. Their theme 
at the moment was the bloody grips they 
had been engaged in during the morning's 
street-fighting in Kinchau. Nor was it idle 
boasting, since the stains on the bayonet- 
catches of their rifles, blackening in the 
sun, gave sickening evidence of the carnage 
at which they had assisted. But the carn- 
age behind them was nothing to that which 
they were to engage in before the sun set. 
At the moment the three blue-coated little 
soldiers appeared to take no interest in the 
lesser holocaust which was even yet taking 



THE FOELORN-HOPE AT KINCHAU. 53 

place in the vicinity. They were discuss- 
ing the past, which had been washed more 
vividly scarlet than the present, between 
the mouthfuls of sodden boiled rice which 
they scooped in handfuls out of the wicker 
satchels suspended to their belts. Such is 
the character of the Japanese soldier. 

There was the terrifying rush of a great 
projectile above their heads. A hissing 
plunge, a half-subdued report, lashings of 
blinding sea-spray. The thick ranks of the 
company fell aside like driven skittles, and 
five helpless masses of human flesh bobbed 
convulsively in the water, which in patches 
showed yellow, brown, and red. A shriek 
of derisive laughter from the spectators 
who picked themselves whole from the 
nieUe was all the dirge vouchsafed to the 
victims — more, it was all they would have 
desired. Mahtsomoto, the Osaka recruit, 
leaned forward from his rock and picked 
up the cap of one of his fallen comrades. 
He fitted it upon his own head to replace 



54 THE FORLORN-HOPE AT KINCHAU. 

that lost in the early morning struggle. 
His action appealed to the simple humour 
of those round him ; they clapped him on 
the back and bubbled with mirth in the 
ecstasy of their congratulations. The 
mutilated remains floated clear, and the 
ranks closed up. 

Then an officer came wading through the 
sea. He shouted an order to the major 
of the battalion. Another order passed 
from mouth to mouth down the line of 
company officers, and the three little in- 
fantrymen had to stow their rice-baskets 
away, quickly and take their rifles from the 
rest which the slimy rock had given them. 
The battalion was to move. Where and 
how the men in the ranks did not know ; 
but as the water descended first to their 
knees and then to their ankles, they real- 
ised that they were moving ofi* to the left, 
and to their great joy the direction was 
taking them nearer to the Russian position. 
As their feet made the dry shore that posi- 



THE FORLORN-HOPE AT KINCHAU. 55 

tion became defined to them. There was 
no mistaking it, for the gunboats, having 
spent the whole morning dragging for 
blockade- mines in the bay, had now found 
a channel by which they could safely take 
advantage of their light draught, and their 
shells were bursting all along the summit 
of the slope which frowned in front of the 
advancing infantry; also, far away to the 
left, the dark shadow of Mount Sampson's 
slopes was emitting countless little jets of 
flame. They came and went almost with 
mathematical precision. These jets were 
the burning charges of the massed Japanese 
field-batteries. They were adding to the 
Inferno which crowned the ridges where 
the Siberian Rifles, grim, dogged, and 
hungry, lay prostrate behind the filled 
gabions waiting for the climax which they 
knew this fierce cannonade but prefaced. 

The advancing infantry could trace the 
enemy's position from the bursting of the 
Japanese shells, as minutely as if they were 



56 THE FORLOEN-HOPE AT KINCHAU. 

reading a chart. They could see the great 
column of lurid smoke and flame shoot up- 
wards as some 6 -inch projectile struck the 
lip of the parapets ; and as the smoke from 
these explosions mushroomed out and hung 
as a murky pall above the works, the 
darker patches were mottled with the 
white smoke -discs of bursting shrapnel. 
The din was deafening, for underlying the 
deeper detonations was a ceaseless crash of 
small-arms, punctuated with the grinding 
rattle of automatic weapons. 

The infantry battalion began to crawl 
upwards as its direction brought it under 
the cover of the ridge. It was now cross- 
ing ground recently held by the leading 
battalion of the 4th Division. The ranks 
frequently opened, to avoid trampling upon 
the trail of human suffering which marked 
the accuracy of Russian shooting. The 
head of the 4th Division had been massed 
so thickly behind the ridge that, at a 
glance, it was possible to tell the nature 



THE FORLORN-HOPE AT KINCHAU. 57 

of each projectile that had caused the 
ruin. Here an 8 -inch Obuchoff had swept 
a dozen valiant little bluecoats from their 
feet, and they lay a mutilated mass ; here 
automatic and mitrailleuse had mown down 
a file of men, and they lay prostrate or 
sat self- dressing their wounds much as 
they had fallen; and here solitary yellow 
faces, turning tawny grey in death -tint, 
told of the Berdan pellet through the 
brain. Some few with lesser hurts than 
the majority raised their weakening limbs 
to cheer their comrades on, and there 
seemed to be no tongue, excepting those 
for ever still, too parched to articulate 
" Banzai >" 

^^ Banzai! Banzai! Banzai!" shouted 
Mahtsomoto and his comrades with him 
as they leapt from side to side to avoid 
a prostrate form, or, little recking of the 
pain they caused, in passing seized and 
shook some outstretched hand. Who shall 
stop such soldiers ! What force under 



58 THE FOBLORN-HOPB AT KJNCHAU. 

heaven can stay men who go forth to 
battle in like spirit ! Look at the bat- 
talion as it passes beneath you. Look at 
the midday sun glinting on the points of 
the fixed bayonets ; look at the dull black 
stains at the root of those same bayonets 
— who shall stop them ! Wait ; in war 
there is time for all things ! 

The companies deploy and lie down on 
the unexposed slope of the knoll — it is 
nothing more than a knoll — and its summit 
is swept with a race of nickel, steel, and 
lead. As the men look back they see, 
after the last company has deployed and 
is flat behind them, that they themselves 
have doubled the human wreckage on the 
plain. Like the desperate players that 
they are, they have doubled the stakes. 
The play is high ; but they will have to 
play higher yet before the game is won — 
or lost. 

The major is kneeling at the. head of his 
prostrate battalion ; a dark little staff-officer 



THE FOBLORN-HOPE AT KINCHAU. 59 

kneels at his side. The whistle summons 
the company commanders. Upright they 
stride over the reclining men. What the 
major says the men do not yet know : the 
majority do not care ; they are lying on 
their backs taking in the wonderful scene 
behind them. 

In front of them are only Russian field- 
works, which are contemptible, and glorious 
death. Behind them unfolds the panorama 
of their beloved country's strength, power, 
and — what perhaps does not appeal so 
much to them — devotion. To the left is 
the great blue shallow bay in which until 
recently they were standing. The middle 
distance is broken by five gunboats, whose 
war-dulled hulls sparkle with the constant 
flashes from the guns. The dirty smoke 
from their funnels, driven southwards, 
mingles with the great sombre pall above 
the Russian works, so that the bright sun- 
light is scarred with a band of sullen black. 
Half a dozen torpedo-boats are circling in 



60 THE FORLORN-HOPE AT KINOHAU. 

the roadstead, worrying spitefully, like 
terriers at a beast at bay, willing to strike, 
yet conscious of the power of this particular 
enemy. Well may they be cautious, for 
the surface of the water is torn into spits 
of foam, as projectiles fall without inter- 
mission in and amongst the ships. 

But it is on land that the panorama 
is more impressive. Behind the prostrate 
troops, from their very feet, almost as far as 
eye can reach, the narrow tongue of land is 
packed with masses of infantry. The sun 
runs riot upon acres of bared and flashing 
bayonets, right away as far as the mud 
walls of Kinchau, which those very 
bayonets had won that morning. Men 
and horse, fifty thousand men, massed for 
the fleshing, suffering death at random — a 
target impossible to miss — until the moment 
shall arrive for them to put their crude 
patriotism to the final test. 

The company officers return to their com- 
mands, and the word passes down the line 



THE FORLORN-HOPE AT KINCHAU. 61 

that the battalion, together with the sister 
battalion lying parallel with them on the 
left, is to assault the nearest of the Russian 
works. "Open up the Russian forts" is 
the expression used, and a suppressed 
murmur of ^* Banzai ! " flickers down the 
ranks as the men raise themselves on to 
their knees. 

" Right shoulder " a little. It is useless 
to make men climb the steeper portion of 
the peak. "Right shoulder!" and the 
easier path over the saddle will be found. 
One minute, and the men can almost feel 
the rush of air from the sleet of projectiles 
passing immediately above them ; the next, 
and through the gaps torn in the ranks of 
the company in front of them they see their 
goal, and intuitively make mental measure 
of the distance to be crossed. Two hundred 
yards to the bottom of the dip — here the 
scattered buildings of a fishing village — and 
then four hundred yards of gentle climb to 
that sky-line, with its demarcation of un- 



62 THE FOfiLORN-HOPE AT KINCHAU. 

ceasing flashes and its dull yellow -grey 
curtain of clinging picric cloud. Above 
the thunder of battle — the crash and rattle 
of the guns— the grinding of the automatic 
death-machines— and the sickening swish 
of metal sweeping poor human frames by 
scores before it, — rises the full-throated 
war-cry of Japan — Banzai! — ^^ Live a 
thousand years!" and almost before the 
men have realised that they are facing 
a tornado, those that have not been 
stricken down have reached the cover of 
the village. 

What a trail they have left behind them ! 
The rearmost companies have to open out 
and direct to right and left, for the slope is 
a mosaic of prostrate uniforms. The crash 
and racket on their front intensifies, and 
beneath the rain of projectiles the meagre 
walls of the village crumble and subside. 
A haze of sun-baked mud -dust rises from 
the subsiding pile, and, clinging in the dead 
air, covers somewhat the carnage in its 



THE FORLORN-HOPE AT KINCHAU. 63 

midst. A pent -house falls and crushes 
half a platoon beneath it. A bevy of 
terror-stricken women and children, bolted 
by flame, shell, and sights of death from 
their hiding-places, dash blindly for the 
open — a moment, and they too swell the 
tale of massacre. The full-throated war-cry 
of Japan is dead. A thin wail of Banzai ! 
goes up, an oflBicer seizes the emblem of the 
rising sun, and, bending low to meet the 
leaden blizzard, dashes for the slope. 
Where ten minutes ago he had had a 
company to follow him, he now finds ten 
or fifteen men. To right and left little 
knots of desperate infantrymen dash out 
into the fury of the blast — only to wither 
before it. For perhaps ten seconds the 
colour is erect and falters onward. Then it 
is down. Mahtsomoto is at his captain's 
heel : he seizes the loved emblem and raises 
it again. He turns back to wave it, and is 
swept from his legs; he struggles to his 
knees; the flag is upright again, for one 



64 THE FORLORN-HOPE AT KINCHAU. 

second only, and then as if by magic the 
firing stops, and for one second the Russians 
jump up upon their works, and wave their 
caps and shout the shout of victory. The 
two Japanese battalions which furnished 
the forlorn-hope have ceased to exist. The 
Russians cheered, and then the Japanese 
supporting artillery reopened, and the 
struggle returned to its normal state. 
The forlorn-hope had failed — but what did 
that matter ? were there not forty thousand 
as good infantry massed behind the ridge, 
prepared to carry on the desperate work 
which the two lost battalions had begun? 

By sunset the Japanese had carried this 
work, and the whole line of Russian 
defences went with it. 



65 



VII. 

THE MTLTTABY TBIUMVIRATE. 

Tokyo, 8th July 1904. 

Thbee men are standinsf in front of a 
Urge hanghg »ap. The .hart i» on «> 
large a scale that it screens the whole ex- 
psinse of wall at one end of the room. The 
shortest of the three men holds a telegram 
in his hand, and as he reads from it one of 
the members of the Triumvirate runs his 
finger along the red line which seems to 
biforcate the suspended chart. Having 
satisfied themselves that the reading of 
the map synchronises with the information 
contained in the telegram, the three men 
group round the table in the centre of the 
room. These three are worthy of close obser- 
vation, for they form the Triimivirate that 

E 



66 THE MILITABY TRIUMVIRATE. 

is ruling Japan's destinies at the present 
moment. The small, podgy, pock-marked 
man, whom no caricaturist could fail to 
lampoon as a frog, is Baron Oyama, the 
Roberts of Japan. We use the parallel 
to our own great soldier only as a figure 
of location. In temperament there is no 
likeness between the two, except that each 
in his respective country is a great soldier. 
And what a history lies behind this diminu- 
tive field-marshal 1 He has seen the latent 
fighting strength of his nation develop in 
a single generation from the standard at- 
tained in the medieval civilisation of the 
East to that of a first-class Western 
Power; has lived to command it in the 
act of overthrowing the vaunted strength 
of a Western Power. But to few great 
military leaders has such an opportunity 
come as has presented itself to the present 
generalissimo of Japan's army. Twelve 
years ago this very marshal was called 
upon to command in the field against the 



THE MILITARY TRTOMVIRATE, 67 

Strength of CJhina. The opening phaaes 
of his present campaign were conducted 
over the very ground through which he 
then manoeuvred his victorious troops. 
Does it come often in the lifetime of a 
general to operate twice over the same 
squares of the map? In the present 
operations the knowledge gleaned in that 
first campaign has been worth an army 
corps. 

The little general seated at the marshal's 
right is the Kitchener of Japan. If we had 
not known that he was Japanese, his quick 
dark eye, dapper figure, and pointed beard 
would have led us to believe that he was a 
Spaniard, or perhaps a Mexican. General 
Baron Eodama is the executive brain of the 
Japanese general staff. Of the third mem- 
ber of the Triumvirate, however, we have 
no parallel in the British army. Like his 
illustrious associates, he also is smalL He 
is &ir for a Japanese, and the splash of 
grey at either temple enhances the fairness 



68 THE MILITARY TRIUMVIRATE. 

of his skin. Save for a rare and very 
pleasant smile, the face is unemotional. 
The dark eyes are dreamy, and the poorest 
expression of the great brain that works 
behind them. This is General Fukushima, 
whose genius has been the concrete-mortar 
which has cemented into solid block the 
rough -hewn material of Japan's general 
staff. 

These are the three men who hitherto 
have repeatedly overthrown Russia's mili- 
tary strength in the Far East. And since 
the Japanese army of invasion landed in 
Korea and Manchuria, it has been this 
Triumvirate, first from this very room and 
the three adjacent ones, and latterly at the 
front, that has controlled the destinies of 
the army in the field. This is the Japanese 
system, this, perhaps, the secret of the 
Japanese success. The strategical factor 
in the operations is the general staff, 
wherever it may be located. Whether in 
Tokyo, in the field, or in Timbuctoo, the 



THE MILITARY TMUMVIRATB. 69 

tactical remains with the generals com- 
manding in the field. 

There is a key resting in the safe keep- 
ing of the chief of the staff which, if it 
came into our possession, would disclose 
many score of admirable charts. They 
are marked in colom*, and each set has its 
complementary set to meet each conting- 
ency that might arise, favourable or un- 
toward, even to the invasion of Japan. 
Attached are records of the varied supplies 
stored within easy reach of the home ports. 
Every kind of material that modem fore- 
thought has considered necessary for every 
contingency in war, — from railway material 
suited to the plains of Manchiu*ia, and 
baulks of timber to furnish platforms for 
heavy artillery destined to bombard Port 
Arthur, to shore - torpedo tubes prepared 
against a hostile landing on the home sea- 
board. 

These are the three men in the main 
responsible for all this, — yet stay with 



70 THB MILITARY TBIUMyiBATB. 

me a moment more. They are leaving 
the modest building which represents 
Japan's military strength in Tokyo,— this 
building which, though so unpretentious 
and insignificant, yet has such a far-reach- 
ing shadow, — the marshal and his two 
chief lieutenants are leaving it, for to-night 
is their last night in the capital ; to-morrow 
they will leave Japan to control the des- 
tinies of the army in the field. They are 
due at a farewell complimentary dinner 
given by the heads of sister departments. 
Just have one glimpse at them as they 
sit on the floor in strange alignment round 
the three walls of the banqueting hall. 
For the moment all that is of the West 
is forgotten ; they are now mere Orientals, 
trifling with the dainty Geisha maidens, 
plying them with food and drink; they 
are entranced with the semi-barbaric danc- 
ing of the premiere danseuse of the house 
wherein they sup, and they partake of the 
merriment of the cup as if there were no 



THE MILITARY TRIUMVIRATE. 71 

such distraction in the wide world as war. 
Yet even as they sit, there has come to 
the men on duty at the War Department 
a detail of new ground that has been 
broken within two thousand metres jof 
Port Arthur's outer works, of grim casual- 
ties to covering infantry entailed in this 
pushing forward of the parallel. Never- 
theless, as the messenger who brought the 
news from the war bureau stands outside 
in the passage, sipping the cup of green 
tea which some rmcsmS has brought him, 
all he hears is the spirited rhythm of the 
sdmdsdn. . . . 

On the morrow the Ministers Plenipo- 
tentiary and Envoys Extraordinary of all 
the great Western Powers, glittering in 
their bullion-charged dresses, will be pre- 
sent on the platform to wish the Trium- 
virate "God-speed." 



72 



VIIL 

A VISIT TO TOGO'S RENDEZVOUS. 

Chbmulpo, April, 

The man at the wheel seemed to be steer- 
ing by instinct. It was so dark that, as 
we clung to the rail on the bridge, we could 
not see the whaleback of the destroyer. 
All that we could tell was that we were 
passing in through an archipelago of 
islands. The false horizon which their 
rocky summits from time to time vouch- 
safed to us was, however, the only proof 
we had of this. The lieutenant-commander 
maintained a discreet silence. It was his 
business to convey us to the rendezvous 
under cover of darkness, not to explain the 
intricacies of his uncharted course. He 
was politeness itself, and never tired of 



A VISIT TO Togo's rendezvous. 73 

relating his experiences in the destroyer 
fight off Liautishan. Not once, but a dozen 
times during our brief stay with him, did 
he take us forward and point with pride 
at the marks which that struggle had left 
upon his boat. His little beady eyes would 
sparkle like electric points when he called 
to mind the details of that desperate fight- 
ing. How it seemed a miracle that the 
destroyers had not collided, how the stained 
muzzles of the 6-pounders almost touched 
as the shell-like vessels came abreast. How 
his bridge was torn and scored by splinters. 
How his sub-lieutenant and signalman were 
carried overboard by the same projectile. 
It was all marvellously interesting, but it 
was not as interesting in the recital as the 
circumstances of our present position. We 
were entering the passage which led to the 
rendezvous of Admiral Togo's fleet. 

It does not matter here who we were or 
why we were allowed to make the visit. 
But it was so arranged that we boarded 



74 A VISIT TO Togo's rendezvous. 

the destroyer late in the afternoon, and 
it was dark, pitch dark, before we made 
the landmarks which would have disclosed 
the situation. 

Steadily at half speed the destroyer held 
on her course. There were no lights, — as 
far as we could see there were no points at 
all beyond the stars by which the master 
could correct his bearings. Silently, almost 
weirdly, the long thin streak of a boat 
slipped through the water. The sea was 
as smooth as a frozen lake. Suddenly the 
commander put his hand on the telegraph. 
He peered into the darkness ahead, we could 
see nothing, but after a moment's hesitation 
his hand went down, and almost immedi- 
ately we were going full speed astern. 
Then it was, and then only, that we saw 
a dim shadow of a body in front of us. 
For the first time we descried a light. The 
signal lamp was in requisition. A call, 
an answer, and then all was darkness again, 
and we were going half speed forward past 



A VISIT TO Togo's rendezvous, 75 

the guardship. Presently, as it were out 
of nowhere, we were able to discern the 
dim outline of a moving body on either 
beam. These outlined into thin long 
streaks like unto ourselves. In short, if 
the night had not been clear, we would 
easily have mistaken them for our own 
reflection on the mist. Then from the port 
side came a hail. The answer was given 
in Japanese, again the telegraph spoke to 
the engineer. Slow — ^and in a few seconds 
we were being led by the pilot boat 
right in through the lines of Togo's fleet. 
It was a strange sensation. Here we 
were passing between two lines of giant 
engines of war. We could just make out 
each indistinct mass that in the darkness 
indicated a ship. But there was never a 
light and rarely a sound. Once a picket- 
launch steamed up quite close to us. We 
could hear the pant of her engines and just 
make out the suspicion of flame from the 
rim of her funnel. Then the pilot boat 



76 A VISIT TO Togo's rendezvous. 

shouted us clear, and we bore down upon 
one of the darker patches. We hoped that 
it was the Mikasa, and that we were 
destined to spend the night on the flag- 
ship. But the commander put our mind 
to rest on that point with the simple 
information that he was about to tie up for 
the night at the torpedo transport. . . . 
It has not been given to every one to 
witness the victorious Japanese fleet lying 
at anchor in its rendezvous. It was a 
sight once seen not easily to be forgotten. 
The four squadrons lay at anchor in four 
lines. Just clear of them lay the trans- 
ports, colliers, torpedo transports, and the 
dockyard vessels. At the entrance to the 
bay lay the guardship and the destroyers. 
Three destroyers and one cruiser were on 
the mud to facilitate the attentions of the 
dockyard hands. Two of the battleships 
had colliers alongside, and another of the 
colliers was filling the bunkers of two tor- 
pedo boats. Across the entrance to the 



A VISIT TO Togo's rendezvous. 77 

bay one could just make out the faint line 
of a boom. Since we had heard so much 
of the damage which the Russian guns had 
wrought upon the Japanese fleet we looked 
anxiously for evidence of it. As the morn- 
tog lighi rtrengthe,«d w. ecrutmised ««h 
battleship in turn. There were six of 
them, great gaunt leviathans stripped for 
the fray. Though the friendly glass made 
each rail and stanchion clear, yet we could 
discover no serious trace of this ill-usage 
of which we had heard. Then for the 
first-class cruisers, they at least had been 
knocked to pieces. Here they were, four 
of them, anchored line ahead. There was 
nothing that the non-professional eye could 
detect amiss with their lean symmetry. 
The picture was in a manner oppressive : 
there was nothing within view that was 
not connected with scientific butchery and 
destruction in its most ruthless and hor- 
rible form. The ships themselves, stripped 
of everything that was wooden or super- 



78 A VISIT TO Togo's rbndbzvous. 

fluouSy gave a morbid impression of merci- 
less majesty and might. The nakedness of 
their dressing accentuated the ferocity of 
the gaping guns. One thought of the 
shambles on the main deck of the Variag 
and the fate of the Petropavlovsk, and 
shuddered. But in all, if not exhilarating, 
it was a magnificent picture. And one 
bowed in tribute to the diabolical and mis- 
applied genius of man. . . . 

At three o'clock came the crowning 
scene. A signal fluttered up fi:om the 
bridge of the flag-ship. As if by one move- 
ment the little torpedo crafb slipped away 
towards the entrance, while the whole air 
hummed with the rattle of chain-cables. 
Signal after signal from the flag-ship, and 
then majestically Admiral Togo took his 
fleet out of the rendezvous to do battle 
with his coimtry's enemy. This was a 
soul-stirring spectacle. . . . 



79 



IX 



THE PATH IN THE EAST IS STEANGE. 

YiNKOw, September, 

The Foreigner was unutterably bored. Only 
those who, buttoned up to the neck in an 
absurd tunic, have to attend similar Ainc- 
tions in artificially heated saloons, can 
realise the boredom bred of a succession 
of diplomatic soirees. The Foreigner was 
bored. He had nodded to the men he knew 
from his Embassy, had bowed himself low in 
answer to the courteous salutations of other 
foreign mocking-birds like unto himself, had 
kissed the tips of the fingers of perhaps two 
smiling dames, and was now settled with 
his arm on the balustrade waiting until the 
season might be seemly for him to slip down 
the grand stairway into the cool outside. 



80 THE PATH IN THE EAST IS STRANGE. 

The chatter of feminine voices, the 
flashing of dazzling jeweUery, the nodding 

of waist-laced cavaliers, interested him no 
more. The panoply of peace! He gazed 
at the stream of grinning faces as they 
moved past him. There was not one that 
interested him. He fell musing to himself 
Was it a diplomatic reception, was it a car- 
nival, or was it a corroboree — the modern 
development of those orgies the descrip- 
tion of which had fascinated him in perusal 
when a boy? 

There was a temporary dissolution of the 
crowd. An archduke or a princess was 
passing, and the ushers fought to make a 
passage through the throng of gilded guests. 
As the way opened the Foreigner caught 
sight of a face on the far side of the salon 
which seemed to reflect the very thoughts 
uppermost in his own mind. A little 
swarthy face. A face which, in spite of 
the low forehead, beady black eyes, and 



THE PATH IN THE EAST IS STRANGE. 81 

Mongolifitfi bluntness, was full of intelli- 
gence. At the moment cynical intelligence. 
The dwarfish body which supported the 
head was clothed in an unobtrusive uniform, 
and the little capable fingers of the yellow 
hands were playing nervously with a plumed 
shako. An impulse seized the Foreigner, 
and he walked across the room. Though 
he was not acquainted with the little 
yellow soldier standing against the salon 
wall with his shoulder scarce reaching 
to the dado, yet he knew him to be an 
extra-attach^ to the Japanese Legation, 
and his own thoughts seemed to be so 
accurately reflected in the expression on 
the stranger's face that the Foreigner was 
drawn towards him. 

At the first salutation the diminutive 
attach^ started visibly, and, taken un- 
awares, bowed deeply and apologetically, 
as is the custom of his people. The 
Foreigner uttered a few commonplaces in 
the diplomatic tongue, which resulted in 

F 



82 THE PATH IN THE EAST IS STRANGE. 

more nervous agitation of the shako. It 
was evident that the little man did not 
understand. He glanced furtively up into 
the bigger man's face, smiled inanely, and 
drew in his breath between his teeth. The 
Foreigner tried English and German in 
turn, but their use elicited no reply beyond 
the deliberately sucked-in breath. An awk- 
ward silence, and then the little attach^ 
thrust his hand in his breast-pocket and 
produced a card. This was handed to the 
Foreigner with a courtly bow. It read — 

Lieutenant H, Kamimoto^ 

Imperial Japanese Army. 

The Foreigner bowed, shook hands with his 
tiny acquaintance, and then, the time being 
propitious, passed out into the cool of night, 
hailed a fiacre, and drove home. The little 
olive face remained in his mind, the ex- 
pression of cynicism he had first seen in it, 
the instant change to apologetic courtesy, 
as soon as he spoke, and the depth of intelli- 



THE PATH IN THE EAST IS STRANGE. 83 

gence contained in the eyes, which for the 
rest had aix uninteresting setting. 

Three years later the Foreigner found 
himself among the guests at a midsummer 
party. After the usual compliments, he 
accompanied his hostess into the garden, 
where the younger folk were disporting 
themselves upon the tennis-courts. For a 
moment the Foreigner was left alone to 
watch the play. A lithe little figure in 
flannels was the heart and soul of the game. 
Few could persevere against his returns, 
none place a ball beyond his reach. His 
play was an exhibition of marvellous skill, 
the subtle strength of controlled energy. 

"Who is your dark little Renshaw?" 
asked the Foreigner as he rejoined his 
hostess. 

"That is Mr Kamimoto, a Cambridge 
friend of Georges. He is a Japanese; 
doesn't he play a splendid game, and such 
a fimny little fellow too?" 



84 THE PATH IN THE EAST IS STRANGE. 

Kamimoto^ and the mental vision of the 
Foreigner went back to the little apologetic 
figure with nervous fingers playing round 
the edge of a full-dress shako. 

The set was over, and when the con- 
gratulations had lulled the Foreigner had 
a look at the little olive face. It was the 
same, only the cynical suggestion of superi- 
ority had gone out of it. The infinite 
courtesy remained. Presently the Foreigner 
was able to step to the little man's side. 
He put out his hand to him. 

" Have we not met before ? " 

A smile flickered under the stiff little 
impertinence of a moustache, and the 
answer came in perfect English. 

" You have often called at the Japanese 
Legation : perhaps you have seen me there." 

"No; Paris, I think ! " 

The breath was drawn in between the 
closed teeth. " You are, I think, mistaken. 
We Japanese are so much alike. I have 
never been in Paris." This answer given. 



THE PATH m THE EAST IS STRANGE. 85 

the little man threw the Foreigner a signal 
glfitfice which he understood. A soldier's 
freemasonry. The Foreigner understood, 
and as he moved away, he noticed that 
though the little attach^ appeared quite at 
ease with the men, yet he was awkward in 
his courtesy to the daughters of the house 
who flitted round him with refreshments. 
The Foreigner's interests were aroused. 
He would cultivate this little oddity, who 
was an attach^ to a legation one year and 
a Cambridge undergraduate the next, and 
who politely denied past acquaintances. 
The Foreigner moved aside to do his duty 
by his hostess and her daughters, and 
wherever he turned he noticed that Kam- 
imoto was observing him. 

Later in the evening, when the guests 
were retiring early in anticipation of a 
long day's boating picnic on the morrow, 
the Foreigner found little Kamimoto at his 
elbow. "May I come to your room and 
talk to you before we turn in?" 



86 THE PATH IN THE EAST IS STRANGE. 

" Certainly, I shall be more than pleased." 
Five minutes later they were seated on a 
sofa in the Foreigner's bedroom. 

"Well, my student -militant, explain it 
all. What is the reason of the present 
masquerade?" and the Foreigner greeted 
the little attach^ with a genial slap on the 
knee. 

The breath was drawn in again. It 
might have been that the familiarity was 
resented, or— and this is more probable— it 
gave the speaker an extra second to debate 
his answer. 

" It means that the educational institu- 
tions of England are suitable to the im- 
provement of my mind ! " 

" But such improvement as you desire is 
surely not found in the Universities — the 
military academy and college would seem 
to be more in your particular line? Re- 
member there was a first lieutenant's braid 
on that shako in Paris." 

The smile, which immediately drives out 



THE PATH m THE BAST IS STRAKGK. 87 

the unintelligent look from the average 
Japanese face, flickered for a moment, and 
then the attach^ answered, " You are very 
clever to remember that. But you know 
that your military institutions are closed 
to me." 

"My dear sir, you can go and see them 
any day you like. I can arrange ! " 

" You are very good, and I thank you, 
but you couldn't arrange for me to become 
an inmate — a cadet, fellow of your cadets. 
I expect that I know all that could be 
learned through the 'open door.' It is 
the shut door that I must study." 

" But being a soldier — why try the Uni- 
versities? In their educational attain- 
ments they profess to despise us. We are 
to them no more than the blue-bloused 
butcher — a very necessary evil, necess.ary 
to the economy of life-salaried assassins ! " 

"But you draw your ofl&cers from tho 
same class as fills your Universities. You 
even have University candidates. It is 



88 TH£ PATH m THS EAST IS STRANGE. 

not the system so much as the man that 
I desire to know/' 

" To what end ? " 

" There is only one end for us Japanese : 
that is the service of our country." 

" How long have you been at Cam- 
bridge ? " 

" Two years : my period there is now 
finished. I seek a new field I " 

" And that is ? " 

"The reason of my c(Hning to see you 
here to-night!" 

There was a pause : the Foreigner looked 
earnestly at his little companion. It was 
evident that he was working upon some 
line, and the Foreigner was not quite satis- 
fied that the line was unmasked. 

"Anything I can do?" was tamely in- 
terpolated. 

"You can supply what I most want, — 

I wish to see the life of your people as you 
see it." 

" Certainly ; if you will revert to your 



THE PATH IN THB EAST IS STRANGE. 89 

military rank, I will have you put up for 
my club ! " 

Kamimoto shook his head. "I have 
already received that honour. As far as 
your *open door' is concerned I know 
most things. I have moved about your 
service dubs, meeting with courtesy on 
every hand. The courtesy that chills, 
that brackets one in the estimation of your 
countrymen with a little piece of lacquer. 
I am interesting because I am Japanese 
and small of stature. Finding no sym- 
pathy among the Englishmen of my own 
calling, I tried the women. What was 
open to me? The women of the streets. 
There was nothing there. Then I tried 
your colleges. Perhaps that was better; 
but your young men are such children. 
One tires of them. And even though I 
can equal them in all their games, and 
maybe pass them in their work, yet I am 
to them the little piece of hric-a-brac 
stiU." 



90 THE PATH IK THE BAST IS STRANGE. 

The Foreigner leaned back in his chair 
and smiled. The line was unmasking it- 
self. " Surely you are not suffering under 
the lash of forced abnegation : is not humil- 
ity, when working in the public cause, the 
great characteristic of you Japanese — the 
main doctrine of your far-famed chivalry ? " 

The little man's eyes sparkled like coals 
of fire. 

" I know to what you refer. The whim- 
sical ethics of some past age. Conditions 
that are as traditional as your own age of 
knightly chivalry, but which axe sufficiently 
fanciful to prey upon the imagination of 
such countrymen of yours, who, living 
amongst us, have succumbed to the spell 
of the artistic beauties of our cotmtry. 
But believe me, good fiiend, this brush- 
business in cheap - coloured virtue is as 
painfiil to us as the patronising tolerance 
which classifies us as children. Only let 
me know you, and I will disabuse your 
mind of the many Japanese fables which 



THE PATH IN THE SAST IS STRANGE. 91 

pervert the understanding of the Western 
world. If all our antiquaries were not 
foreigners, this load of libel would not 
have been added to the burden which my 
country has to bear/' The line was now 
unmasked, and from that day there sprang 
up between the Eastern and Western 
soldier a friendship which ripened into 
affection as months cemented the ac- 
quaintance. 

Kamimoto was sitting in the Foreigner's 
rooms in Jermyn Street. It was not the 
same Kamimoto we had known a year be- 
fore. In rank, in stature, in dress even, 
it was the same man. But in expression 
of face it was another. The face was the 
true type of the Japanese Samurai aristo- 
crat, but it was the face of the Japanese 
aristocrat who had conquered the mysteries 
of the West. 

Kamimoto blew the ash off the end of 
his cigar before he answered the question 



92 THE PATH IN THE EAST IS STRANGE. 

which the Foreigner had put to him. Then 
he answered in that grave manner which 
characterised his more thoughtful conver- 
sation, " You are in error. If you consider 
that our national morality as typified by 
our diplomatic morality is based upon, or 
even influenced by, the old doctrines, then 
you pay a poor compliment to those doc- 
trines, and upset the laboured calculations 
of those foreigners who find in the fiaahion- 
able idiosyncrasy of a past age an ideal 
standard for modern moulding. Don't be 
gulled by the enthusiasm of fanatical 
savants. There is one creed which rules 
all Japanese public morality. Balance the 
chances, and then pursue the wisest course. 
All conditions must be subservient to the 
means by which you attain and maintain 
the wisest course. Take for instance our 
alliance with you. You and I have split 
a bottle over this diplomatic issue. In 
common with the beetles that crawl, you 
believe that we have both served our own 



THE PATH IN THE BAST IS STRANGE. 93 

ends by this diplomatic stroke. What your 
aims are I suppose only your diplomats 
know ; what are the aims of Japan every 
Japanese knows. This alliance, for the 
nonce, was, to all intents and purposes, 
the wisest course, for it was the only 
course. But it is not what we desired 
most. You come into it as far as we are 
concerned as a Hobson's choice. It would 
have suited us better to have eflfected the 
alliance with Bussia which Ito failed to 
negotiate. This alliance would have been 
offensive against you. Having with Kussia's 
aid undermined your power in the Far East, 
we could have dealt with Kussia in our 
own time. We do not fear Bussia, and 
we have cause for our confidence. This 
will soon be brought home to you as the 
outcome of this new alliance, in spite of 
the fact that it has been heralded by you 
as a guarantee for the peace of the East 
in the immediate future. Are you so blind 
as not to see that our aspirations to blot 



94 THE PATH IN THE EAST IS STRANGE. 

you out, our main menace in the Far East, 
failed through Russia's rapacity. Well, her 
blood be upon her own head ; but there are 
those who wish it had been the other way. 
Come, let us drink another bottle to the 
alliance, and ' our enemies our friends.' " 

" I wish you would not talk such non- 
sense in such a serious tone : you almost 
make me believe that you mean what you 
are saying ! " 

A smile flickered across Kamimoto's face. 
" In which you have the true diplomatic 
force. That is one thing you Englishmen 
cannot teach us. You can teach us how 
to build ships and guns, to make armour- 
plate and gas-engines, but you can teach 
U8 nothing in diplomacy. The pop of that 
cork proves it. We will drink to our 
alliance, with three times three ! " 

The world has revolved for another year. 
The Foreigner's headquarters were now at 
Tientsin. His country had required his 



THE PATH IN THE EAST IS STBANGE. 95 

services in the field for Military Intelli- 
gence which North China had opened up. 
Trouble was in the air, and an anaemic 
Cabinet was now in terror lest the diplo- 
matic stroke which eighteen months ago it 
had vaunted as a peace-ensuring measure 
should prove diametrically the opposite. The 
Foreigner, in the pursuance of his duties, 
found himself at Port Arthur. His mission 
was that of a coal-contractor, his bearing 
that of a British oflScer. His disguise 
would not have deceived an Englishman, 
therefore the fact that he was not inter- 
fered with meant that the police had al- 
ready sampled him and found him harmless. 
The Foreigner felt that his chin was 
rough, so he turned into the first hair- 
dresser's that the highway presented, which 
looked both respectable and clean. It was 
a Japanese institution. The majority of 
petty industries on the Eussian - Man- 
churian seaboard are Japanese. The 
Foreigner looked for a chair. For the 



96 THE PATH IN THB BAST IS STRANGE. 

moment there was none. Four Bussian 
officers from the garrison were filling 
heavily all the available space. The 
Foreigner knew sufficient Russian to war- 
rant his being discovered as an English- 
man if he attempted to speak it in Port 
Arthur. He was surprised at the freedom 
of speech of the Russian officers with 
regard to their professional duties. It 
seemed that this hairdresser's was a sort 
of morning club-house. Vodka and beer 
could be served from an auherge next door. 
In due course the Foreigner took his place 
in the chair. One look in the cheval-glass, 
and in his surprise he nearly jumped out 
of the seat. There behind him, lather and 
brush in hand, and a spotless apron round 
his waist, stood Kamimoto. 

" Shave or hair cut, sir ? " 

The Foreigner composed himself in a 
moment, and settled back in his chair. 
He was reflecting. Kamimoto's question 
had shown him that, though he was 



THE PATH IN THE BAST IS STRANGE. 97 

masquerading as a German coal-merchant, 
it was patent to all that he was British ; 
while here stood his Japanese prototype, 
a perfect barber, reading the minds of the 
Russian officers from morning till night. 
The barber's own words came back to 
him. " You can teach us how to make 
armour-plate and gas-engines, but you can 
teach us nothing in diplomacy ! " 

As Kamimoto handed the Foreigner a 
towel he said, " If you are staying in the 
hotel, I can come and shave you before 
breakfast. Very good, sir, what number? 
— 23 — very good. 7 o'clock to-morrow. 
Good morning, sir — thank you ! " 

The Foreigner left marvelling greatly. 

• ••...•• 

The Foreigner was again desperately 
bored. His Government, seeing that he 
had knowledge of Bussia and Russian 
Manchuria, had selected him to represent 
them with the Japanese Army. He, with 
some fifteen other foreigners, as weary of 

G 



98 THE PATH IN THE EAST IS STRANGE. 

life as himself, had now been with the 
Japanese Army the matter of a month 
or so. Courteous discourtesy hedged them 
in on every side. They were within sight 
of everything that they came to see, yet 
they saw nothing. Everything had to be 
done by rule. On the march the horses 
must proceed at a walk, and no foreigner 
might be out of sight of the interpreter 
told off to dry-nurse him. For three long, 
hot, desperate weeks they had been con- 
fined within the four walls of a filthy 
Manchurian town. Many of the number 
were down with abdominal complaints bred 
of bad feeding, want of exercise, and 
mental annoyance. Yet the Japanese 
officer in charge brought his spurred heels 
together with a snap, bowed low, smiled 
his superior smile, and expressed his sym- 
pathy. This sympathy was as insipid and 
cheap as the thin Japanese imitation of 
lager which the unwilling hosts produced 
on feast-days. 



THE PATH IN THE EAST IS STRANGE. 99 

The Foreigner was walking moodily and 
in solitude round the broad rampart of the 
town. Every indication of war stretched 
away to the north. But it was not for 
him. A sabre clinked behind him. He 
imagined it was worn by some officious 
sentry sent to chase him from the wall, 
and he refused to turn. Then an arm was 
slipped through his. He turned. It was 
Kamimoto. 

The little soldier looked hard and fit. 
He was less sleek, it is true ; but his eyes 
showed that he was more a man than 
when he had shared the Foreigner's rooms 
in Jermyn Street. The star and three 
tapes on his sleeve showed that he now 
commanded a company. The Foreigner 
took the delicate little hand and shook it 
warmly. The beady eyes twinkled. 

"Aha! it is not all beer and skittles," 
Kamimoto said, smiling. 

"The beer is not beer, and there are 
no skittles." 



100 THE PATH jp THB EAST IS STRANGE. 

Eamimoto looked serious a moment, then 
he said, '^I had heard this; I feared as 
much. It was foolish of you to come. 
Do you not remember all that I used to 
tell you in England. You thought I was 
deceiving you. That shows that I knew 
you better than you knew me. We 
Japanese know you foreigners better than 
you know us. Hence the fact that you 
look darkly towards our outposts and 
almost wish that you were a Russian. 
But I liked you too well to deceive you. 
As you know, I am not of the bigoted 
anti - foreign section. If we had done 
worse than we have at present, if we 
should chance do worse ultimately, I shall 
be ruled out by the popular feeling of my 
own country. That is, if the bloody work 
ahead should spare me. But it is all 
wrong, all this slaughter ! " 

" What have you seen ? — what have 
you been in?" 

"I — I, the Kamimoto that you know, 



THE PATH IK THE EAST IS STRANGE. 101 

have been in nothing; but my company 
was at Nanshan, Telitz^ Tashichaou, and 
Haicheng. It has lost 90 per cent of its 
original strength. What do we gain? 
Knowledge of the truth of the belief that 
we are better men than the foreigner 
whom we were bred to despise I If we 
were so assured of this fact, why should 
we purchase the proof at a price that 
must eventually tell against us. No; I 
am Samurai enough to do my duty. But 
I have sipped of the West long enough 
to value the lives of my fellows more 
than the aggrandisement of a particular 
selfish and hidebound sect. Do you not 
know what success spells for Japan? 
Militarism, the curse of the past, will be 
the curse of the future, and its new 
foundations will be Japanese and Russian 
tombstones " 

" Come, come, Kamimoto ; this is strange 
talk, coming as it does from you." 

The little man bui*st out laughing. 



102 THE PATH IN THE BAST IS STRANGE. 

" Forget it, then. But how about your- 
self?" 

"I; — well, I have seen nothing." 

"What do you wish to see? — surely 
in another's quarrel a telescope is good 
enough." 

The Foreigner put his hand on his 
little friend's shoulder. " Can I not give 
you back your words, Kamimoto? you 
should know me better than that." 

Kamimoto was silent for a moment ; he 
was gazing into the distance. Presently 
he turned to the Foreigner. 

''Remember," he said, "that I am a 
Japanese officer, and I possess, perhaps, 
Japanese secrets. But I will do for you 
all that I can. I came to see you to-day 
because I felt for you in the trouble 
which I knew, and many of us knew, was 
gnawing at your heart. Now, look where 
I point. Do you see that long low ridge 
of down, the one to the left of the two 
peaks with a saddle between them ? " The 



THE PATH IN O'HE EAST IS STBJLNGE. 103 

Foreigner nodded assent. "You see the 
whole plain covered with tall, waving 
kouliangf Well, on the day when they 
let you march out of here it will be easy 
for you to lose yourself in the kouliang; 
try and reach that down just before sun- 
down. And now, saydtKwa ! " He saluted 
the Foreigner gravely, and in a moment 
had slipped down the ramp. It must 
have cost him much to tell even so 
little. What a quaint paradox was this 

little scrap of an infantry captain ! 

• •••*••• 

The Foreigner felt that there was truth 
in his friend's remark, to the effect that 
a man was a fool to court hurt in another's 
quarrel. All through the long day, as he 
had lain with his body squeezed against 
the squelching sides of a two -foot mud 
head-cover, this thought had been forced 
upon him a hundred times. He was in 
the front line of a great battle. The 
ceaseless screech and whirr of countless 



104 THB PATH IN TH£ EAST IS STRANGE. 

shells passing backwards and forwards 
overhead was sufficient evidence of this, 
even if at the moment, five yards away, 
two little Japanese infantrymen had not, 
with their shoulders, been levering the 
corpse of a comrade on to the mud 
parapet to make the head - cover better. 
Even if behind a Chinese grave - mound, 
ten yards in front of him, a hard - hit 
sous ' qfficier had not been nursing a 
horrible wound, the excruciating agony 
of which, though it could draw no sound 
from the tortured man's tongue, caused a 
thin blue stream of blood to trickle from 
the sufferer's lip, bitten through and 
through. 

There was a lull in the din of war. A 
restful lull, broken now only by the song 
of the bullet, slapping its way through the 
millet-stalks, or sousing into the wet mud 
with a sound that reminded the Foreigner 
of a horse landing in bog. The din of 
battle ! Only those who lie in the firing- 



THE PATH IN THE EAST IS STRANGE. 105 

line and hear the constant screech of the 
shell as they cleave their terrible way 
through the air above know the true 
sounds of modem war. The whip - like 
smack of the bursting shell, the swish of 
the scattering bullets, are nothing to the 
mocking screech of these damned messen- 
gers of death pursuing each other, as if 
in competition to complete the awful object 
of their hideous mission. The whole 
welkin is discordant with their tumult ; 
you feel the rush of misplaced air, splinters 
sing in your ears, the earth is in constant 
tremble with the violence of the discharge ; 
you feel it pulsate against your cheek 
pressed to the moist mud of the parapet, 
and then a bullet saps the life-blood of the 
comrade whose elbow has touched yours 
day and night for forty hours. There is 
a limit to human endurance in these 
straits. 

There was a lull, and the Foreigner 
peeped over the parapet which sheltered 



106 THB PATH IN THE EAST IS STRANGE. 

him, and communed with himself. Here 
he was, like Uriah of the Holy Writ, in 
the forefront of the battle. What had he 
seen? What could he see? He peered 
through the stalks of the millet. Ten 
yards from the trench the crops had been 
cut — the fallen plants showing that neces- 
sity, not season, had caused their downfall. 
Beyond the cut millet, 800 yards away, 
was a gentle turf rise. Then a sky-line. 
That was all, if he excepted the entangle- 
ment at the foot of the rise. This could 
not escape his view, for the barbed wires 
were hung like a butcher's shop with forms 
that had once been men. The firing recom- 
menced. Surely he would have done better 
not to have accepted his friend's hospitality, 
and to have remained upon an eminence in 
the rear with the staff. There was a shrill 
burst of laughter at his side ; a wretched 
soldier had been shot through the brain, 
and his comrades gave vent to their over- 
strained feelings in hideous mocking merri- 



THE PATH IN THE EAST IS STRANGE. 107 

ment at the contortions which a shocked 
nerve-system forced from the lifeless limbs. 

• ••••••• 

Day was just breaking. Kamimoto took 
the Foreigner by the shoulder and woke 
him up. " There is some food now ; you 
had better take something, for who shall 
say when we may move again or find food." 
It would have been hard to recognise in 
Kamimoto, as he now stood, the Cambridge 
undergraduate of a few years ago. He was 
still mild in manner, but his cheeks were 
drawn and sunken with privation and sleep- 
lessness ; his uniform — he was a chef-de- 
hataillon now, where he had been a com- 
pany commander three days ago — was torn, 
dirty, and weather-stained. A dull brown 
patch above his belt showed where a bullet 
that travelled round his ribs had bled him. 
The toes of his boots and the knees of his 
overalls were worn through by the rough 
scarps of the hill-sides ; even the scabbard 
of his two - handed sword, the blade of 



108 THB PATH IN THE EAST IS STRANGE. 

which had been wielded by Kamimotos of 
his house for six hundred years, was scarred 
and friction-marked. Yet withal, save for 
his eyes, he was mild and even feminine in 
appearance. 

The Foreigner sat up and partook of the 
sodden rice that served this little residue 
of a battalion for food. They were still 
among the corn-stalks, but in a very dif- 
ferent place to that in which the Foreigner 
had received his baptism in Russian fire. 
Since that day he had seen Kamimoto lead 
five forlorn-hopes that had failed. He had 
seen half the battalion blotted out amid 
the entanglements, and had followed the 
remaining half over the Russian breast- 
works, and on, on into the plain, to the 
little rise upon which they now lay. They 
had reached it in time to throw up the 
sketchy trenches, in which the Foreigner, 
dead-beat, had cast himself down to snatch 
a moment's sleep. 

" Eat, and pray your gods that you may 



THE PATH IN THE EAST IS STRANGE. 109 

never see the like of this again. Think 
of death in thousands, and wish for peace, 
pray for peace, work for peace ! " And the 
little officer mixed some tepid green tea 
with his rice, as is the custom of his 
country. The Foreigner had no comment 
to make. He had seen his fill of death, 
of suffering, and human tribulation during 
the past three days. 

A man hurried back from the sentry- 
line, and shooting a suspicious look at the 
Foreigner, whispered in his commander's 
ear. He repeated his story twice, and with 
a smile and apology Kamimoto left his 
European friend and dived into the corn- 
stalks in the direction of the outpost-line. 

The Foreigner continued his meal, and 
then, expert that he was, little evidences 
around him could not fail to warn that 
something unusual was happening. The 
sous - officiers went round and awakened 
such men as were sleeping. These jumped 
up, clutched their rifles, and disappeared 



110 THE PATH IN THE EAST IS STRANGE. 

into the cover to the north. Others came 
back for ammunition-bags, and a support 
came up from the rear. Unable to resist 
that magnetism which takes men into 
danger zones, even against their better 
judgment and often their design, the For- 
eigner also dived into the corn - stalks. 
Thirty yards and he had reached a firing- 
line. It was lying down, — a glance told 
the expert it was endeavouring to make 
itself as invisible as possible, — each man 
was in the posture of a hunter who feels 
that perhaps he is too near to the wind 
to successfully stalk a timid quarry. The 
Foreigner threw himself into the line, and 
then wriggling forwards saw what the men 
saw. 

The little rise commanded a funnel- 
shaped depression through which the 
Liao-yang road struggled. It was a 
poor road, but on either side of it the 
corn had been pulled and cast by ruthless 
hands into the rut -morass to make the 



THE PATH m THE EAST IS STRANGE. Ill 

going firmer. For half a mile it was 
possible to trace the roadway as it wound 
along the base of this little amphitheatre, 
then it was lost in the standing millet. 
Along this track a weary column was 
plodding. The Foreigner looked, and 
rubbed his eyes. It was a Russian column. 
There was no misinterpreting the white 
tunics and blue breeches, no mistaking the 
figures which loomed colossal in comparison 
with the little fellows with whom he lay. 
A counter-attack? His trained eye told 
him that the dejected movement of the 
draggled column savoured not of aggres- 
sion. The men's rifles were across their 
backs and their pale worn faces were 
whiter than their blouses. There was no 
speech, no sound other than the squelching 
of their boots in the mire. A surrender ? 
No man came forward to arrange quarter 
for men too tired, too whipped and beaten, 
to defend themselves. No Japanese went 
forward to recommend to them such mercy 



112 THE PATH IN THB EAST IS STRANGE. 

as they had earned. A misdirected column? 
That was it. 

The thought just flashed through the 
Foreigner's brain, when the voice of the 
che/'de-bataillon rose superior to the silence. 
The rifles crashed like one. The Russian 
column stopped dead in its tracks. The 
leading fours were so close that the 
Foreigner could see the look of amazement, 
horror, and despair upon the blanched 
features of the wretched men. Then as the 
magazines ground out their leaden ava- 
lanche, the leading fours tried to surge 
backwards, tried to save themselves in 
flight. It was awful ! — the rifles made no 
smoke to hide the hideous spectacle ; it was 
like the execution of a bound man. Flight 
was impossible, for the magnitude of the 
confusion prevented retreat or retaliation. 
The little Japanese, shouting and jeering, 
were now upon their feet and redoubling 
the rapidity of their fire. With blanched 
cheek and set teeth the Foreigner watched 



" Like a pack ofkoiiiuh his 



THE PATH IN THE EAST IS STRANGE. 113 

this terrific curtain to the bloody drama 
in which he had participated. He saw the 
white tunics melting into the mud like 
snow under a sleet shower. He saw a mad 
rush towards the cornstalks baulked by the 
intensity of the fire. He saw such of the 
Russians as remained upon their feet throw 
their arms into the air and stretch out their 
naked hands towards the rifles that were 
annihilating them. Their shrieks were in 
his ears. Then as if by magic the firing 
stopped. A little figure — he knew it well, 
the whole battalion knew it — leaped in 
fi-ont of the firing. For a moment the face 
was turned towards the Foreigner. The 
mildness, the culture, the charm were gone : 
animal ferocity alone remained. It was 
Kamimoto as he would have been a hundred 
years ago. His two-handed sword was bare 
in his hand. He raised it gleaming above 
his head and dashed down into the amphi- 
theatre. Like a pack of hounds his men 
streamed down after him. The Foreigner 

H 



114 THE PATH IN THE EAST IS STRANGE. 

covered his face with his hands. The end 
was too terrible. He turned and fled back 
to the trench. Here he collected his rain- 
coat and water-bottle, and then, with the 
horrible picture ever before him, went south 
to collect his thoughts. 

The Foreigner was stiU lost. Fighting 
had prevented him from rejoining after 
witnessing the untoward end of the Russian 
battalion. He found food and lodging for 
the night with some Buddhist monks, and 
at daybreak on the following morning, now 
that the enemy had completely evacuated 
it, climbed to the nearest position. A 
Japanese fatigue-party was toiling, — carry- 
ing the corpses of their comrades up the 
slopes. At the top stood Kamimoto. The 
same old smile, the same pleasant, mild, 
and friendly Kamimoto. He greeted the 
Foreigner warmly; but no reference was 
made between the two to the yesterday. 



THE PATH IN THE EAST IS STRANGE, 115 

His men were carrying corpses up the 
hiU and throwing them into the enemy's 
trench to mingle with the Russian dead. 

"Would it not have been simpler to 
have burned or buried them at the foot 
of the rise ? " the Foreigner asked in all 
simplicity. 

"Of course; but you must remember 
that at ten o'clock their excellencies the 
honourable foreign attaches will come round 
to see the positions which our infantry won 
with the bayonet. Therefore, most honour- 
able Foreigner, it were better that you 
\#ent back to your camp. It would not 
please any of the staff to know that you 
had already been here. It is very un- 
fortunate that one so humble as myself 
should have to request your honourable 
good self to remove ! " 

There was a merry twinkle in Kami- 
moto's eye. But he was expecting an 
oflBcer from the staff immediately. The 



116 THE PATH IN THE EAST IS STRANGE. 

Foreigner made his way down the hillside 
deep in thought. The speculation upper- 
most in his mind was whether Kamimoto 
would have the first field-dressings taken 
off those corpses. 



117 



X. 



THE FALL OF THE MIGHTY. 

TsiN-TAU, September. 

The flag -lieutenant leaned wearily on the 
rail. It would have been difficult to ade- 
quately analyse his thoughts. They were 
conjured up by the weariness of life which 
possessed his body, and the fierce despair 
and utter humiliation which had crushed 
his soul. The rim of the beam from the 
search-light on Golden Hill, as it was light- 
ing the water-way for the passage of the 
last of the battleships, flooded the super- 
structure of the flagship as she rode at 
anchor. Yet it was more than the in- 
tensity of the unnatural light that blanched 
the faces of the little group of officers on 
the bridge. It was not fear, — Russians are 



118 THE FALL OF THE MIGHTY. 

not cowards : besides, the oflScers of the 
Russian Pacific Squadron were past fear. 
It was the utter hopelessness which know- 
ledge of physical incompetency breeds in 
the vicinity of death. The crestfallen con- 
sciousness of impotency that might be seen 
in the face of an inexpert motorist if the 
chauffeur suddenly had fainted ; but not 
what one would have anticipated in the 
faces of men to whom a great nation still 
looked for the successful shaping of its 
destinies. 

It was a weird scene. Three great white 
beams of light pierced a background that 
was otherwise impenetrable in its inky 
blackness. They focussed their concentra- 
tion upon one point, and illuminated with 
dazzling contrasts the gaunt hull and heavy 
tops of a battleship in their every detail, as 
with laborious toil it was towed between 
the artificial sags, — legacies of Japanese 
efforts to obstruct the fairway. In front of 
it three launches were dragging a mine- 



THE FALL OF THE MIGHTY. 119 

trawl. The busy panting of the tugs and 
the swirl of the water beneath the trawl- 
hawser were the only sounds in the 
vicinity. But other noises punctuated the 
stillness of the night, — there was ever 
present the dull reverberation of the 
Japanese shells from the investing lines, 
as they burst with maddening monotony 
on the hill -crests of the outer defences. 

Just for a moment the rim of the beam 
had rested on the flagship, then its focus 
was readjusted, and all was darkness, except 
where the moving vessel glided past, con- 
juring up the vision of some spectre craft in 
a grim stage setting. It glided past until 
it was two cables' length distant from the 
flagship. Then three or four short sharp 
orders in a deep voice. One tug at least 
seemed to redouble its panting, and the 
jarring rattle of metal links told that the 
warship was anchoring. Almost immedi- 
ately a light was shown from a casemate on 
the main-deck of the flagship, and as if by 



120 THE FALL OF THE MIGHTY. 

magic the beams of the search-lights dis- 
appeared. 

The flag-captain who was standing by the 
Admiral called the flag-lieutenant by name. 
Only the first half of the difficulties were 
over. The lesser had been accomplished, 
but the greater was to come. The flag- 
lieutenant took his orders, and moved 
lethargically down the ladder. A launch 
was piped to the gangway, and in two 
minutes he was on his way to give direc- 
tions to the trawlers. They would now 
be required to cover the advance of the 
squadron as it felt its way to the open sesu 
What were the risks of the home waters in 
comparison to the open sea ! Presently the 
flash-lights burst up again. Now the re- 
flectors threw the faltering beams well out 
to sea. It was essential that the adven- 
turous squadron might lie unseen in the 
shadow of complementary darkness. The 
lights now traversed as in normal circum- 
stances, lest the reconnoitring torpedo craft 



THE FALL OF THE MIGHTY. 121 

from the blockading squadron should become 
suspicious. As soon as the trawlers were 
in position the flag-ship showed a stern 
light, and the sound of her windlass con- 
veyed to the squadron the order for the 
momentous movement. 

Daylight, and a thick haze. Thank Pro- 
vidence for the haze. Might it hold until 
they made the Shantung promontory ! The 
flag -lieutenant was still leaning over the 
bridge-rail. You could now see his features 
clearly. The estimate formed in the fierce 
beam of the search-light had not been un- 
just. He was a tall spare youth, fined 
down now below his normal standard by 
the distressing tension of adverse war. His 
aristocratic features were drawn and pinched. 
His auburn beard was touzled and unkempt 
in its niggard growth ; great dark rings 
encircled his blue eyes. His uniform was 
in keeping with his features. His duck 
trousers suggested rather the engineer on 



122 THE FALL OF THE MIGHTY. 

watch than the staff officer on the bridge. 
Yet in his state he was in sympathy with 
the crew lying wearily at their stations. 
Few were sleeping. The Pacific squadron, 
from Admiral to coal-trimmer, was in no 
mood for sleep that morning. Thank Pro- 
vidence only for the mist ! 

The squadron crept on — the battleships 
in line ahead, the cruisers following in 
similar formation. The sea was smooth : 
it usually is so when the land mists lie, 
but in the fleecy cloud scud and heaving 
swell there were evidences of approaching 
wind. Presently a torpedo-boat appeared 
ahead. It was steaming at its utmost 
speed, as the great wave breaking over its 
whale -back showed. A desperate Jap? 
No ; only a report from the line of scouts 
ahead. The flags were fluttering from the 
tiny mast. The mist rendered the bunting 
indistinct. But in a minute the scout 
was abreast, and the megaphone told the 
story : " A division of Japanese torpedo- 



THE FALL OF THE MIGHTY. 123 

boats, an exchange of shots, and the escape 
of the hostile boats " ! 

The Admiral bit his lip. It was not 
unexpected, but he had hoped that the 
mist might have shielded him longer. The 
gamble was over now : he must turn back 
immediately, or stand on to fight. The 
torpedo lieutenant was at his elbow, with 
a long thin strip of paper in his hand. He 
had come from the wireless chamber, and 
the paper was what the machine had 
recorded. It was a jumble of dots and 
dashes. The message was Japanese. It 
did not matter that it was in cipher; the 
Admiral could read the history the tape 
related as clearly as if it had been in his 
own language. It meant that the Japanese 
patrol-boats had made his movement out. 
That they had raced to the guardship with 
the news, and that the guardship was now 
transmitting it, as fast as the wireless 
spark could make it, to the Japanese fleet 
lying under steam in the Elliott Group, 



124 THE FALL OF THE MIGHTY. 

It meant that the Bussian fleet must turn 
back now, or stand on to fight. The 
Admiral looked over the head of the tor- 
pedo lieutenant and gazed out to sea. The 
mist was disappearing. A south-westerly 
breeze was rolling it up into the Man- 
churian coast. The Admiral bit his lip, 
but no sign on his wan pale face gave 
evidence of the struggle that was throbbing 
in his mind. He turned and looked down 
the line of battleships of his command. 
One, two, three, four, five ! His decision - 
was made in that moment. He would 
stand on : steer for the Korean Straits if 

he could ; fight if he must ! 

........ 

The mist had lifted, and the sun shone 
brightly overhead. The swell just moved 
to the temper of the freshening breeze, and 
the yellow sea for once was blue. The 
Russian flagship stood on her course. She 
was stately, though weather-stained ; but 
in her stripped decks and towering super- 



THE FALL OF THE MIGHTY. 125 

structure she showed nothing of the battle 
scars which distinguished the lean-hulled 
cruiser flag-ship now abreast on the star- 
board beam. The flag- ship was fresh from 
the dockyard, while the cruisers had borne 
the brunt of six months' war. The Ad- 
miral was manoeuvring a fleet for the first 
time in his life. How soon would he be 
manoeuvring it in the presence of the 
enemy ! 

The answer came almost at once. The 
navigating ofiicer reported Encounter Rock 
on the port bow ; at the same moment the 
officer in the foretop shouted down that he 
could make out a heavy cloud of smoke 
rising above the silver belt of mist which 
still clung to the north-eastern horizon. It 
might or it might not be the torpedo craft, 
who since daylight had been as tenacious 
to the movements of the squadron as pilot- 
fish. Every glass was turned in the 
direction indicated — every glass with the 
exception of the Admiral's : he stood 



126 THE PALL OF THE MIGHTY. 

against the rail with his hands clasping 
the metal bar behind him. Only the yeo- 
man of the signals, with the slack of the 
halyards across his palm, could see that the 
long pale fingers were convulsively closing 
and opening their hold. To the rest of the 
little group on the bridge the Admiral's 
pale impassive features conveyed no inkling 
of the fearful anxiety that was battling in 
his mind. The great engines ground on 
below, making their sixteen knots, and 
each revolution seemed to smite the Ad- 
miral as he awaited the verdict of the 
watchers. 

The mystery of the smoke was not long 
in discovering itself. The breeze was still 
chasing the mist northwards, and the masts 
and tops of Togo's battle squadron separ- 
ated quickly from the silver fog. Six 
vessels steaming line ahead were respon- 
sible for the suspicious smoke; and then 
the flag - captain reported deliberately, 
"There is another squadron north-west of 



THE FALL OF THE MIGHTY. 127 

them, steering a course nearer to us." Was 
it a spasm in the engines, or was it a 
shudder that seemed to strike every man 
on the bridge, and almost simultaneously 
communicate itself to figures in dirty duck 
on the decks below ? What made so many 
ashen faces turn towards the bridge ? 

" Six — no, there are only five ! " 

" Perhaps it is the British from Wei-hai- 
wei — the silhouette of their ships is very 
similar," was laconically suggested by the 
flag-lieutenant, with the faintest suspicion 
of optimism in his voice. 

" Japanese battleships ! " A monotonous 
voice from the top killed this last hope. 

Mikasa^ Shikishima^ Fuji, Asahi, and 
Nisshin in line ahead ! " droned the flag- 
captain as the Japanese squadron became 
"hull up," showing the white "bones" in 
front of each. 

To fight was now imperative. In a 
moment the bridge resounded with the 
strident voice of the Admiral. The leth- 



128 THE FALL OF THE MIGHTY. 

argy vanished, the flag-lieutenant dropped 
down the ladder, and the decks thrilled 
with the bugle note. Even before the 
signal flags had left the yeoman's hand, the 
squadron had passed the bugle-call along. 
To fight was now imperative — why, im- 
perative ! it had already begun ; the rattle 
of the Novih's quickfirers rolled across the 
summer sea ; she was engaging the more 
enterprising of Togo s scouts. Back the 
little boats steamed to shelter under the 
guns of the battle squadron. 

The Russians would fight — the battle 
flags were bent ! 

....a... 

The great ship quivered — then quivered 
again. For a moment the flag-lieutenant 
thought that a torpedo had struck her. 
His nervous system remembered that first 
torpedo under Golden Hill. It was only 
the twelve-inch guns. But they made the 
conning -tower rock. The Japanese had 
manoeuvred, and were now standing in on 



THE FALL OF THE MIGHTY. 129 

the starboard beam. The Russian Admiral 
changed his course. Great projectiles were 
ricochetting overhead and raising geysers 
of salt spray all round them. But for 
the present the flag -ship could answer 
shot for shot, and one of the hostile 
battleships — the Shikishima it looked 
like — had drawn out of the fighting 
line. 

The Admiral clenched the hand-rail. 
His face was still pale, but the fighting- 
light was in his eyes. For a moment his 
gaze turned from the Mikasay with her 
black hull flashing lurid yellow up and 
down its lean length. The mist was up 
again in the south-west, and the sea was 
rapidly getting up. 

" Make the fleet signal, * Close up— • 
foUow me.' " Then he turned to the officer 
at the navigating tube, " For the promon- 
tory." 

At the same moment there was a deafen- 
ing report, and the vessel swung so that 

I 



130 THB FALL OF THE MIGHTY. 

every one in the conning-tower was thrown 
against the walls. 

" What was that— mined ? " 

The dread of mine and torpedo by this 
time was firmly ingrained in every Russian 
sailor, and as the flag-lieutenant sprang 
down the ladder the horrible nightmare 
of the Petropavlovsk leaped up before his 
mental vision. It was nothing. A deck 
officer, who seemed as unconcerned as it 
he were at manoeuvres, came hurrying for- 
ward. He reported that a large shell had 
hit the after 12-inch turret, glanced, and 
in bursting wrecked the top above. 

" Awful ! Poor fellows' flesh came down 
with the splinters on the deck like confetti 
in a carnival!" The cold-blooded simile 
passed in the heat of the surroundings. 
Then the vessel staggered from two ter- 
rific blows forward. The flag - lieutenant 
stumbled ahead, drawing his hands mech- 
anically to his ears, while the torn fi?ag- 
ments of iron and splinter soughed past 



THE PALL OF THE MIGHTY. 131 

him. Biting, stinging smoke blinded him, 
while the force of the concussion flattened 
him against a ventilator. The first sight 
he saw was the mangled frame of his 
comrade. The top of the poor wretch's 
head was gone, a half- burned cigarette 
was still between the clenched teeth. He 
threw his glance upwards — the forward 
smoke-stack was rent from top to bottom, 
and the flame and smoke were licking round 
its base. The 12-inch guns in the forward 
battery solemnly fired, and the ear-splitting 
crack of the discharge brought the youth to 
his senses. He made for the ladder. 
Great God! the conning - tower and for- 
ward bridge were but torn, smoking, and 
twisted wreck. A man jumped to the 
deck. His face was as black as an Ethi- 
opian's, his uniform and beard torn and 
discoloured to a filthy yellow; his left 
arm, severed at the biceps, was dangling 
by a sinew. 

" All are killed, the Admiral, all ! " the 



132 THE FALL OF THE MIGHTY. 

figure gasped, as it reeled and sank faint- 
ing to the deck. 

Then the port guns fired. The flag- 
lieutenant realised that the ship was not 
steering — she was veering round. He 
dashed to the after bridge, past the quick- 
firer crews lying prostrate, amid the wreck- 
age and the corpses. He found the 
commander superintending the shipping of 
the after steering-gear, and reported the 
paralysing intelligence. For a moment 
the commander looked at him blankly. 
He was bleeding from a skin wound in 
the neck, and such of his uniform not 
stained yellow was scarlet with blood. 

"Good!" he ejaculated; "she is steer- 
ing again. Full steam ahead. Make a 
fleet signal. Make the signal, *The 
Admiral transfers the command.'" 

Thank Providence for that south- 
westerly gale. The flag -ship at sixteen 
knots came into the bright bay that faces 



THE FALL OF THB MIGHTY. 133 

the Ostend of the Far East. For the 
last time during the war the 12-pounder 
crews were mustered. What a relief. 
Mustered in peace to salute the German 
flag. 



134 



XL 



CHAMPIONS. 

YiNKOW, October. 

The moment of deadlock had arrived. The 
Russian counter-attack, desperate though 
it had been, had failed to get home; but 
the Japanese infantry, immovable itself, 
was unable to turn the mass of Russians 
from behind the fold in the ground which 
they had reached. Barely three hundred 
paces separated the muzzles of these op- 
posing lines of blackened rifles. But that 
narrow green strip was impassable to both. 
To show upon it was to court almost certain 
death. Already the turf was littered with 
fallen men, and scarred and seared with 
the violence of plunging shell. But the 
artillery fire from both sides had now ceased, 



CHAMPIONS. 185 

since from the gun positions it was im- 
possible to discriminate between friend 
and foe. 

Lieutenant Tokugawa, of the — st Regi- 
ment of Imperial Japanese Infantry, lay 
amongst his men. with his eyes fixed upon 
a slight moimd midway between the firing 
lines. The five stones which served him 
as head-cover gave him a scant loop-hole. 
The little mound attracted him. It was 
little more than a fairy ring — perhaps it 
was some Manchu's grave ; but it fascinated 
Tokugawa, and he made a mental measure 
of its distance. He was calculating if it 
should be the limit of the next rush when 
it was ordered. Tokugawa was a little 
man. But though his statiu'e was small 
in the matter of cubits, his back was that 
of an athlete. He had the reputation of 
being the bravest and strongest man in 
the regiment, where all were brave and 
strong. 

That mound — innocent little heap of 



136 CHAMPIONS. 

emerald green — was exercising its fascina- 
tion upon another soldier. Two of the 
most sanguinary rushes made before the 
Russian counterstroke finally failed had 
been led by a tall fair subaltern and a 
long-haired priest. Twice had these two 
placed themselves in front of a group of 
desperate men and striven to win their 
way to the Japanese bayonets, and twice 
had rifle fire obliterated the attempt, 
leaving but a handful to regain the 
shelter of the dip. 

The fair subaltern's eye had caught the 
mound. It marked the possible place for 
a pause, and, setting his teeth, he mar- 
shalled his shattered sections for a last 
despairing effort. The afternoon sun 
caught the glint of the tapering bayonets 
as the obedient moujiks rose to their feet. 
A clatter of rifles brought into position 
passed down the Japanese firing-line as the 
watchfiil little eyes accepted the warning. 
Up rose the youthful subaltern and priest, 



CHAMPIONS. 137 

with perhaps twenty men behind them. 
One withering volley, and the attempt 
had failed almost before it had begun. 
The subaltern, the priest, and foiu* others 
alone stood, and came racing for the 
mound. Other rifles spoke. One by one 
the men staggered and collapsed. Now 
only the priest and officer remain. A few 
more steps and the scant haven will be 
reached. The priest, with his lank locks 
waving in the air, his crucifix aloft, sinks 
to earth as his legs become nerveless 
beneath him. Tet, though he is fast 
becoming spent, he holds the emblem 
above him. But the youth I Tokugawa 
can now see his fair yet firm-set features, 
can almost feel the flash from his blue eyes. 
The mud-spirts of striking bullets seem to 
entangle him ; yet on he still comes. His 
life is surely charmed by that crucifix still 
held alofb with faltering strength in that 

taloned hand. A moment more and 

he is down behind the cover ! The mound 



188 CHAMPIOKS. 

top is scarred and rent with striking 
nickel. The crucifix is shattered with 
the hand that held it, as the priest 
collapses to a dozen wounds. A sleet of 
bullets sweeps the narrow margin, and 
then all is still again. 

A fierce light burns in Tokugawa's eyes. 
He is unwinding the thong from his two- 
handed sword, — ^the sword which his father 
wielded in the Rebellion — ^which his for- 
bears in the direct line had wielded in a 
thousaud fights for half as many years. 
His resolution once taken, nothing could 
shake it. The fascination of the mound 
was now changed to magnetism. He is 
on his feet — the true steel is bare in his 
hands, and he is racing for the mound. A 
shout goes up, a cheer in which both sides 
join. The tall fair subaltern has jumped 
to his feet. The best blade in Tsarskoe 
Selo is bare in his hand — he has accepted 
the challenge, and he stands with head 
erect at the base of the mound awaiting 



CHAMPIONS. 139 

the onrush of his diminutive adversary. 
As if by instinct the battle in the vicinity 
accepts the trial by champion, and both 
sides rest on their arms, even expose 
themselves freely by rising to their knees. 
The moment is supreme. The bright 
sunlight: the green, with its groups of 
faUen men, the lesser wounded raising 
themselves painfiilly to watch the coming 
issue : the war-bedrafi^gfled spectators shoot- 
i,« up ae it were ^. the g^und: the 
two main figures with a bright star of light 
on the ground behind them, as a sun-ray 
catches the shattered crucifix. Ten paces 
from the mound Tokugawa halts to catch 
his breath, for he has raced a hundred 
yards. The tall Russian lowers his guard, 
and bows slightly. He will take no mean 
advantage. The little Japanese is quick 
to detect the courtesy implied, and, not to 
be outdone, instinctively indines his head. 
Then, remembering he is a soldier, he 
brings his bright blade to "the recover." 



140 CHAMPIONS. 

The Bussian salutes likewise, and then 
they close in mortal combat. 

The Russian is the swordsman — Toku- 
gawa the energetic and vigilant assailant. 
The blades flash high and low for a 
moment; the clash of the steel is audible 
to both fighting lines, in spite of the din 
of battle raging with unceasing vigour all 
around them. Then a murmur goes up 
from the onlookers, a blade has been flung 
clear of the mM4e^ and falls — ^falls beside 
the crucifix. A shout fi:om the Japanese 
— Banzai! hanzai! banzai! It is the 
Bussian who is disarmed. Whether 
snapped, or shorn by the superior steel, 
his blade ha^ gone ; he stands with nothing 
but the hilt in his hand. Banzai ! 

The end has come, and the Bussian 
onlookers fiercely grip their pieces. The 
subaltern springs back, and then hurling 
the remnant of his faithless weapon at his 
adversary's face, he closes upon him with 
his naked hands. The missile misses, and 



CHAMPIONS. 141 

Tokugawa, with the agility of a squirrel, 
leaps sideways — the two-handed sword of 
his fathers is raised to strike — the end 
has come, and the rifles quiver in the 
onlookers' hands. But no — ^the blow never 
falls: with a side -sweep, which was the 
stoutest and noblest stroke that ever 
swordsman struck, Tokugawa flings his 
weapon from him — twenty yards away 
it falls — and then man to man with 
naked hands the champions close. Fair- 
haired giant and swarthy pigmy. It is 
all over in a few seconds. By some occult 
leverage — some subtle science, in which 
mind triumphs over muscle — Tokugawa 
flings his great opponent to the ground, 
and kneels upon his chest. Again the 
cheer rings out. The Russians even join 
issue, for the magnanimity of the sword 
has not escaped them. 

Tokugawa jumps clear, and, extending 
his hand, helps the Russian to his feet. 
For a moment the two men stand with 



142 OHAMPIONS. 

hands clasped, looking into each other's 
eyes. Though they cannot speak each 
other's tongue, yet they read there that 
whieh no too™ language can expresa 
The Russian stoops and picks something 
from the ground. It is the shattered 
crucifix : he places it in his late opponent's 
hand. Tokugawa tugs at the little chain 
at his breast. The link gives, and he 
passes to the Russian officer his seal and 
signet. Again the two men grasp hands, 
and then they salute and turn. The cheer 
rises afresh as they stride back to their 
restive lines. No finger tonehe. trigger 
until both, after a farewell wave, are back 
to cover again. A moment's pause. The 
Japanese reinforcements have arrived. A 
heavy fire, a shout, and the mass of Japan- 
ese advance and drive the Russians from 
the field. 



143 



XII. 



THE OUTPOST. 



If you turn up a North China sailing 
directory you will find that the west coast 
of Korea is recommended to mariners with 
a note of warning. It is an iron-bound 
seaboard, and the northern portion of it, 
which hitherto has remained uncharted in 
the Admiralty records, for three months in 
winter is ice-bound. The coast from Yong- 
ampo to Fusan is fringed with a succession 
of rugged cliff-bound islets. Hundreds of 
pinnacled rocks and masses of cliff, appar- 
ently of no value to living creatures other 
than sea-birds. In winter a bleak, dreary, 
dangerous coast-line indeed. In summer, 
when the Yellow Sea is tranquil, the islands 
are of no import from their very barrenness 



144 THE OUTPOST. 

and inaccessibility. The reader will specu- 
late what history, except of shipwreck, can 
be fathered upon a region so desolate and 
uninteresting. Of shipwreck, as it is 
brought to mind by a rockbound coast, we 
have no concern; but some of these inac- 
cessible and unheard-of rocks for a brief 
period in the early months of the war were 
the means by which the great palpitating 
world heard the legends of sea disasters 
more ghastly than simple shipwrecks. 

Two men sat crouching over a charcoal 
fire in the worst apology for a hut that 
imagination could conceive. Half cave, a 
quarter tent, and the remainder sods and 
board, it furnished the poorest shelter from 
the semi-blizzard that was raging outside. 
The men, in spite of the goatskin coats 
in which they were clad, seemed half 
perished* with cold. They cowered over 
the brass pot that held their fire, and 
raked the embers together to increase the 
miserable heat» And well they might 



THE OUTPOST. 145 

cower, for the whole ramshackle erection 
swayed and rattled with the wind, while 
the driven sleet, bitter and searching, made 
its way through the many crevices in roof 
and wall. Outside a very tumult raged, — 
the wind howled and shrieked all round the 
dweUing, the ceaseless thunder of breaking 
waves showed that these two miserables 
were living on the brink of some sea- 
washed cliflT, while the brief intervals and 
lulls in the grinding storm were filled with 
the plaintive moan of wind- vibrating wires 
and stays. A glance round the hovel, and 
a stranger would have been stupefied. 
The light was good and bright — well it 
might be, for it was electric. Electricity 
in such a dwelling! And look on the 
shelves against the wall. Instruments — 
instruments the most modern and delicate 
that science could manufacture. 

A bell rang, — electric too, — and presently 
a wheel began to click, slowly but deliber- 
ately. If you had closed your eyes you 

K 



146 THB OUTPOST. 

could have imagined that you were in your 
club listening to the mechanism that gives 
you the latest quotation from the Bourse. 
Slowly the instrument ticked. Both men 
listened, nodding out the dots and dashes 
as they read them. Then one of them 
jumped to his feet. 

"That is it — that is our own — not the 
honourable Russian." 

His companion rose and joined him, and 
together they pored over the long strip of 
paper as the symbols were ticked off on it 
at the rate of ten to fifteen words a minute. 
All the men could tell was that it was their 
own cipher. Above that they had no 
knowledge, beyond the fact that as soon 
as they received the final group the mess- 
age was to be transmitted farther. For 
half an hour the machine ticked on monot- 
onously, and then the message ended. One 
of the men pulled an old oil-papered um- 
brella out of the comer, opened the creak- 
ing door, and dived into the blizzard 



THE OUTPOST. 14V 

without. He was responsible for the oil- 
engine. His comrade filled a long-stemmed 
pipe with a bowl just about the size of a 
girl's thimble. He picked up a glowing 
coal with the primitive fire-tongs. In three 
whiffs his smoke was done, and, turning to 
the shelf again, he switched on the current 
and touched the key. With a smack like 
a bullet flattening against a wall the great 
spark cracked out, filling the room with a 
white-blue glare. And, long and short, 
short and long, in the midst of its splutter- 
ing noise the message went. 

Over sixty miles across that stormy sea 
had it come. It was now going seventy 
miles through space to the receiving-station 
at Togo's rendezvous. In two hours the 
Admiralty in Tokio would know how two 
destroyers had steamed into the roadstead 
at Port Arthur and disabled another Rus- 
sian battleship. And when this story was 
given to the public, the two human instru- 
ments who had made its amazing paasage 



148 THE OUTPOST. 

possible, perched on the spur of the far-off 
Korean rock in all ignorance of the news 
themselves, would probably be sitting over 
their charcoal fire, talking of their beautiful 
Japan, and comparing it with the poverty 
of their time-being surroundings. 



149 



XIII. 

THE BLOCKADE -EUNNES. 

TixNT-siN, November, 

The autumn sun was just sinking in a 
bank of haze through which it peered, a 
murky globule of tarnished rose, when 
the skipper of the George Washington 
changed his course to make the Chefoo 
headland. The fog which hung heavily 
to the north-west had beaten the breeze. 
There was not a ripple on the oily surface 
of the Yellow Sea; and the countless 
fingers radiating from the Chefoo light 
heralded a real thick Pechili night. The 
skipper of the George Washington^ a rough 
iU-hewn Norwegian, came up from the 
chart-house, and, thrusting his great hairy 
hands deep into his coarse duck pockets. 



150 THE BLOCKADE-RUNNER. 

stepped the bridge pace for pace with his 
^'hard case" mate, and talked gruffly of 
the sweets of the Karl Frederick's bar in 
Tsin-tau, their last port of call. Behind 
them the Malay quartermaster at the 
wheel blinked stolidly. 

There is no worry about pilots in 
Ghefoo's open roadstead; and once the 
skipper had made the headland, he just 
tucked the George Washington in behind 
a Butterfield & Swire's packet, and fol- 
lowed her stern light. His eye caught 
the great cloud of black smoke which, 
also beaten by the mist, trailed heavily 
behind the coaster. Then he glanced 
quickly up at his own smoke-stack. A 
similar deadweight of burnt Japanese 
coal hung in motionless cloud behind 
them. The Norwegian stopped and said 
curtly to the mate, " Tell the engineer I 
want to see him." 

In five minutes a little wizened figure 
stood at the skipper's elbow. A grimy 



THE BLOCK ADE-BUNKEB. 161 

finger touched the greasy pilot-cap which 
was pulled well down over a pair of 
ferret eyes. 

"You wanted me, sir?" 

"Yes, Higgin, Have you got that 
•Welsh' trimmed?" 

The little ferrety eyes gave a knowing 
signal as the dilapidated machinist made 
answer, " Bather : the Japanese on top 
will just take us in." The gnarled mate, 
returned fi:om his errand, had walked 
over to the rail, and as he stared at the 
lights now beginning to twinkle on Chefoo 
Bluff, was making a mental calculation 
as to how much two thousand Mexican 
dollars a-month would work out per diem. 
At last it struck him that the sun had 
sunk low enough for their purpose, and 
he sent a deck hand to take in the sun- 
bleached ensign from astern. 

They were now up amongst the war- 
ships. The skipper took them astern of 
the Hai-shen, then inside the Austrians. 



162 TH£ BLOCKADE-RUNNBB. 

As they passed the Vichshurg and the 
American tender, the Chinese bos'un and 
winchmen clambered on to the forecastle, 
where the mate joined them. They were 
right under the Bluff now, with its count- 
less lights dancing across the harbour- 
swell. The whirr of a windlass told them 
that the Butterfield & Swire boat had 
let go her anchor. The skipper brought 
the George Washington in between her 
and a China Merchant, and dropped his 
hook. 

In ten minutes the Chinese Maritime 
Customs' boat was alongside, and the little 
white-haired "runner" satisfied that the 
George Washington was carrying a cargo 
of Moji coal to Tsin-wan-tau, and had put 
into Chefoo to take water and the 100 ton^ 
of Chinese cargo consigned to the treaty 
port of Newchwang. Having settled his 
business with the port authorities, the 
skipper changed his duck suiting for a 
presentable suit of serge. Handing the 



THE BLOCK ADB-BUNNBB. 153 

ship over to the mate, he selected a sawpan 
from the cluster of hopeful boatmen swarm- 
ing round the ladder, and went shorewards 
with his mind full of thoughts of a Beach 
Hotel dinner. 

The sanpan brought up at the sea-wall, 
and the skipper, throwing a twenty-cent 
piece into the bottom of the boat, climbed 
up the steps. A throng of lazy Chinamen 
was crowding the hund. It made way 
for the burly European as he shaped his 
course for the town. Just as he reached 
the cable oflSce an exceptionally dirty 
coolie ran up to him and saluted with a 
half-naval, half-civilian tug at his ancient 
cloth-cap. 

"Alright, master, Mr Balleyhew Beach 
Hotel have got 1 " 

The skipper shook his head, and answered, 
"All right, Wong;" while the Chinaman 
slunk away much as a ricksha-coolie would 
on his solicitations being rebuffed. The 
skipper walked directly to the hotel and 



154 THE BLOCKADR-RUNNER. 

turned into the bar entrance. A couple 
of coasting-masters were standing at the 
counter, and they both greeted the Nor- 
wegian, ** Hullo, Jorgessen ; we heard that 
they had sent you to Siberia to do a little 
hard labour/' 

"How did you manage to get clear of 
Vladivostock ? Have a Scotch I" 

The skipper joined his colleagues, help* 
ing himself from the bottle they pushed 
towards him before he made answer. 

"Tve been away some time. They^ 
talked much about the old hooker; but 
they let her go. There's pretty rough 
times in the coast-trade now." 

" What have you got now V 

^* George Washington, an old tank char- 
tered to carry coal for the Fechili Mining 
Company." 

" I know her," said one of the masters, 
flicking the ash from his cigar ; " converted 
Holt boat. Bather fast boat for the coal- 
trade, not, Jorgessen?" 



THB BLOCKADB-BUNNEB. 155 

The skipper shrugged his shoulders, 
stood the men a further potion, and then 
excused himself and withdrew into the 
hotel. He sauntered into the entrance- 
hall,, ordered the boy to keep him a place 
at dinner, and then scanned the visitors' 
list. Finding the number of the room he 
required, he spent two dollars in playing 
with an automatic gambling-machine before 
disappearing up the residential passage. 
Having ascertained the right room, he 
knocked sharply at the door and entered. 
A fair, almost boyish, young Englishman 
rose to meet him. 

" Well, Jorgessen, how are your nerves,? 
you have a fine night." 

The dour Norwegian smiled sardonically 
as he answered, "The promise of such a 
night has prompted me to come earlier 
than I intended: but I would have pre- 
ferred a gale of wind ! " 

"Why did you come in here at all?'' 
queried the youth. 



166 THB BLOCKADE-RUNNER. 

*^ Because we heard that they were 
watehing off Shantung for cUrect saUings 
to ports in the Gulf of Pechili. This spell 
of fair weather necessitates caution. As 
it was, we were signalled by the Chiyoda 
yesterday : if we had been bound for any 
port but Chefoo, she would probably have 
overhauled us, and we didn't want that. 
Also, I would like to see the colour of the 
money. Half down, I think I ** 

The Englishman moved across the room 
to the writing-table, unlocked a despatch-, 
box, and, lifting the lid, took out a bundle 
of crisp notes. The wad was a couple of 
inches thick. 

" How much was it ? " the youth said as. 
he wetted his thumb. 

" Fifteen thousand roubles I " 

"Fifteen thousand roubles it is!" and 
he counted out thirty of the notes. 
"Wouldn't you like me to keep them for 
you ? I wouldn't advise you to take them 
with you." 



THE BLOCKADB-BUNNEB. 157 

"I wish to take them," the skipper 
answered almost sxillenly. " I know what 
to do with them/' and he thrust the packet 
into his hip-pocket. 

" When will you saU ? " and the English- 
man returned the balance to the despatch- 
box, turning the key. 

"As soon as the Chinese rubbish is on 
board : I suppose you sent the lighters 
off?" 

"Yes; they are alongside now." 

"And my papers?" 

"Will be on board by ten o'clock: it's 
lucky we haven't to deal with the British 
consul 1 " 

"Well, good-bye then," and the Nor- 
wegian crushed the youth's slim hand in 
his massive paw. 

"Good-bye, and may fortune be with 
you I When shall we expect you back in 
Chefoo ? " 

"That depends on the weather and the 
— Japanese ! " 



158 THB BLOCKABB-RUNNER. 

The skipper slammed the door behind 
him and shambled into the dining-room. 
He sat down to his dinner with 15,000 
roubles in his pocket as unconcernedly as 
if he had just received his monthly pay 
of fifteen pounds. 

The two coasting masters^ after their 
shore revel, were returning to their re- 
spective ships about midnight. As the 
sanpan took them under the stem of 
the Butterfield & Swire boat, which 
was still taking cargo, one of them 
remarked — 

'' Hello, old Jorgessen's tank has pulled 
out. Old surly Jorg didn't look as if 
he was in such a * continental' hurry. 
Wonder what the glass says : the old boy 
knows this condemned harbour, — ^'spose he's 
gone to another anchorage." 

" He'll consider himself d — d lucky if he 
casts his hook where he hopes to by sun up 
to-morrow, or my name's not Thompson. 



THE BLOCKADE-BUNNEB. 159 

He'll be steaming with doused lights the 
night, or I'm a Dutchman I " 

"What ! a dash for Port Arthur! * It's 
a fine thick night for it." 

" Well, the Pechili Company don't usually 
ferry coals in sixteen-knot hookers." 

The sound of the Butterfield & Swire 
winches drowned further conversation. . . . 

The master of the coaster had been wrong 
in his supposition about the lights. When 
he gave it as his opinion that the George 
Washington was steaming for Port Arthur 
with " doused lights," she was steering for 
the Howki light with all the outward ap- 
pearance of an honest trader. But a look 
round her decks would have shown that 
something unusual was under weigh. After 
taking in her cargo at Chefoo the derricks 
had been lowered and housed. Now the 
winches had been agfain uncovered and the 
derricks d.ipped.ani were being Bwuog out 
over the side, as if in preparation to take in 
cargo again. 



160 THE BLOOKADE-BUNNER. 

The vessel, too, was slipping through the 
water at such a pace as told that the engines 
werft under their fullest pressure. The night 
was as dark as pitch, and the fog so thick 
that it was with difficulty you saw the lines 
of the forecastle from the bridge. The 
skipper stood alone on the bridge with the 
blinking Malay at the wheel, while the 
mate busied himself with the preparations 
of the lifting - gear. This finished, he 
mustered his Chinese crew, and, opening 
a locker just abaft the foremast, handed to 
each an iron belaying-pin. 

Finally, he rejoined his chief on the bridge, 
and for an hour the two paced up and down 
without exchanging a word. Suddenly a 
voice from the forecastle reported the 
Howki light. The skipper and mate went 
down into the chart -room, and in five 
minutes the course was set. The skipper 
returned to the bridge and put the helm 
over until the ship's head was due north, 
while the mate whistled the boatswain ; and 



THE BLOCKADE-RUNNER. 161 

in five minutes mast-head, stern, and side- 
lights had been brought in and the lanterns 
placed, still lighted, in the lamp -room. 
The ship had become a thing of darkness, 
ploughing into the midst of darkness. . . • 

The George Washington was doing her 
best. The glow at the top of the smoke- 
stack was all that was visible ten yards 
from her, except the white phosphorescent 
race which she churned up with her 
propeller. The darkness seemed to form 
up in front of her as some great opaque 
wall. The mist had gathered rather than 
dispersed. The mate came back from ex- 
amining the patent log. It registered 16 
knots, point 2. There was a current with 
her, and the skipper, calculating that she 
was setting to the east, still held on due 
north. "That should bring her to her 
destination in two hours, or pile her on 
the rocks.'' 

The skipper set his teeth and stamped his 
sea-boots on the deck, for the fog was wet 

L 



162 THE BLOOKADE-BUKNEB. 

and cold. The crew were huddled into one 
of the deck-houses. The only lights were 
the carefully screened binnacle and the 
suspicion of glare from the smoke-stack. 
In another forty minutes he would have 
nothing to fear but loose mines and the 
rocks. The blockade was nearly run, and 
they had not seen the vestige of a Jap. 

What was that ? Something seemed to 
break into the monotonous grind of the 
throbbing engines. The two ofl&cers moved 
to the port side and leaned far over the rail 
with eager ears. Nothing; the swish of 
their own displacement drowned everything. 
What relief ! No ; there it is again. It is 
unmistakable this time — the peculiar pant 
of a torpedo-boat. The look-outs have got 
it now, for they too are craning over the 
rail. Yes; there is a dark body moving 
parallel with them. The skipper seizes the 
night-glasses. He need not have worried, 
for the closed eye of the searchlight is 
suddenly opened ; and though it falters in 



THE BLOCKADE-RUNNER. 163 

its struggle with the fog, yet the blurred 
beam can cleave the gloom sufficiently for 
the information of both crews. 

"Small torpedo-boat" is the Norwegian 
skipper's verdict. " Get the lights shipped 
again, Mr Poole, and look round and see 
if more swine of her kind are on hand. If 
there are, we must run for it and trust to 

providence : if she is alone, well " and 

he glanced up at the outline of the derricks. 

In the meantime the torpedo-boat was 
groping with its searchlight to ascertain 
the nature of the craft she had discovered. 
In a sea so calm it took her no time to 
decrease the distance until the search- 
light could overpower the fog. 

But by this time the George Washing- 
ton had its port-side light again showing. 
The boat was now close enough to speak. 
The hail came in English through a 
megaphone. 

"Ship ahoy— What ship is that?" 

The skipper put his hands together and 



164 THE BLOCKADE-RUNNER. 

shouted through them " George Washington, 
Norwegian ; Shanghai to Tsin-wan-tau." 

The Japanese evidently did not hear very 
well ; at least they did not seem to under- 
stand, for the megaphone rasped out the 
peremptory order, "Stop, or we'll sink 
you ! " 

The mate was now back on the bridge. 
The skipper with his hand on the telegraph 
turned to him inquiringly. Instinctively 
the mate understood. " It's all right, old 
man ; they are solitary, and everything's 
ready 1 " Over went the telegraph's handle. 
The bell rang back from the engine-room, 
and the throbbing in the ship's internals 
ceased. 

" Stop her ! " shrieked the megaphone, 

"She's stopped, you blankety fools!" 
answered the skipper. 

It takes a ship in good trim doing sixteen 
knots some time to run to a standstill, so 
the torpedo-boat improved the opportunity, 
circling round her quarry and scrutinising 



THE BLOCKADE-RUNNER. 165 

her under the beam of its search-light. But 
the fog was so opaque that at the .distance 
she thought it safe to keep she could haye 
made out but little detail. 

The English-speaking expert on the mega- 
phone kept up a running supply of queries. 
At last he shouted, " Why had you not all 
your lights ? " 

'* You made that out, did you ! " mused 
the captain, as he shouted back, "Electric 
lighted ship — dynamo suddenly gave out — 
had to light oil lights." 

" Don't understand — stand by for a rope 
—am coming alongside." 

" Port or starboard ? " asked the skipper. 

" Port ! " 

"Thank our lucky stars for this calm,"" 
soliloquised the skipper; then, aloud, "Every- 
thing ready, Mr Poole ? " 

" Ay, ay, sir ! " 

The torpedo-boat turned round, shut off 
the search-light, and, reducing her speed, 
swung down on the George Washington. A 



166 THE BLOCK ADE-BUNNEB. 

few pants from the oscillating engines, the 
chime of the bell, a slight bump, and the 
torpedo-boat was alongside. The rope was 
thrown up and made fast. The first man 
of the boarding party was swinging himself 
up by the gangway, when a deep voice from 
the collier's bridge shouted " Let go ! " 

Two blows with a hammer, and then 
with a grinding crash a steel patent anchor 
with a forty-foot drop tore its way through 
the deck, fore compartment, and bottom of 
the torpedo-boat. The resistance might 
have been tissue paper, for the released 
steel hawser followed after the anchor. The 
mate with a single blow of his axe parted 
the rope holding the torpedo-boat. The 
skipper telegraphed the engine-room, " Full 
steam ahead." The Chinese boatswain 
brained the boarding-oflScer with his belay- 
ing-pin. With a convulsive shudder, as if 
she were a human being shaking off a 
reptile, the George Washington drew clear 
of the torpedo-boat. And just in time, for 



THE BLOOKADE-RUNNER. 167 

the rush of water spurting up within the 
little craft had reached her boilers, and she 
burst asunder with a report like a blasting 
charge. Then the black curtain of fog and 
night closed over all. 

" Narrow squeak, Mr Poole," grunted 
the skipper as the mate joined him on the 
bridge. 

" Dirty business ; but it worked famously, 
sir. What's that ahead ? " 

" Port Arthur search-lights : if we don't 
hit a mine, we're through 1 " 



168 



XIV. 

THE AFFAIR OF THE BRIDGE-QUARD. 

A SMART little Japanese officer, resplendent 
in the amalgamation of yellow, green, and 
scarlet which furnishes the uniform of the 
Guards cavalry, rode up to the portico of 
the unpretentious building which is the 
headquarters of the great General Staff in 
Tokyo. A foreign onlooker would have 
remarked upon the seat of this little light 
cavalryman. He sat his horse far better 
than the majority of cavalry officers to be 
seen in the capital ; also, there was a cut 
about his tunic and a smartness in his 
general appearance which were in contrast 
to what is generally seen in the capital of 
the Mikado's Empire. There was a reason 
for this. Lieutenant Zamoto had just re- 



THE AFFAIR OF THE BRIDGE-GUARD. 169 

turned from the best finishing school in the 
world for a cavalry officer. He had been 
associated for the last two years with a 
Bengal cavalry regiment, and consequently 
had taken his final polish from the best 
type of cavalry officer living. 

Proud of his profession and imitative to a 
degree, if he found aught in the possession 
of others that was worthy of imitation, 
Zamoto had fashioned himself on all that 
was best in the atmosphere of three great 
Continental nations, and he had returned 
to his home a model of what every cavalry 
officer of the Guard should be, no matter 
his race, breeding, or origin. 

The little infantry sentry in the portico 
came hurriedly to " the present," with all the 
clatter and precision required in a German 
text -book. As Zamoto dismounted, an 
orderly dropped down the steps and took 
his horse from him. Just stopping to brush 
the dust from his patent-leather boots, 
Zamoto entered the portal of the Staff 



170 THE AFFAIB OP THE BRIDGE-GUARD. 

building, the faculty of which, though at 
the moment in the midst of peace, was 
working diligently at the machinery which 
would have made immediate warfare pos- 
sible. As Zamoto clattered in, the mess- 
engers and orderlies stood up in their 
places. He acknowledged the salutation, 
as any well-bred Japanese would have done, 
whether his regiment was Cavalry of the 
Guard or not, and mounting the stairway 
went up to the office of the staflF-officer who 
had summoned him. 

He opened the door without ceremony, 
and was welcomed by his brother officer 
with as much formal courtesy as if he 
had been a total stranger. A glance 
round the room declared at once the im- 
measurable difference between the East 
and West. The officer whom he was 
visiting, if his style and title could be 
accurately translated into English, would 
possibly have been a D.A.Q.M.G. for 
intelligence. His office was likewise his 



THE AFFAIB OF THE BRIDGE-GUARD. I7l 

lodging. He had a little cubicle of a room. 
In one corner was a camp-bed, which bore 
the evidence of having been slept in on the 
preceding night. A miniature toilet-stand 
stood beside it. For the rest, the furniture 
consisted of two chairs, a table, and an 
iron-bound chest, the last apparently for 
the safe-keeping of documents. The oflBce- 
table, however, was a pattern of neatness. 
All along its length lay docketed piles of 
telegrams, and it was evident from the writ- 
ing materials in front of this D.A.Q.M.G. 
that his duties lay in the digesting of the 
contents of each telegram that reached his 
department. The weather was hot, and 
consequently the staff-oflScer had discarded 
most of his uniform. His red-banded shako 
was thrown on the bed, his sword hung on 
a nail from the wall, while his tunic had 
slipped on to the floor behind him. Zam- 
oto sat down on the one vacant chair, and 
after the first pleasantry which etiquette 
required, remarked — 



172 THE AFFAIR OF THE BRIDGE-GUARD. 

"Well, I received your telegram, and 
here I am." 

The staff- officer looked at him sleepily 
between his little slits of eyelids : it would 
have seemed that he took no interest in 
the question or the visitor, but that sleepy 
look was penetrating and searching. He 
wa, trp4 to de J in Z^oW. Lu^s 
any sign that might exist of recent de- 
bauchery or ill - living likely to prove 
prejudicial to future soldierly conduct. 
Doubtless Zamoto knew that he was un- 
dergoing this scrutiny. For a moment 
the two men looked at each other impass- 
ively, and then the meaningless smile flick- 
ered over the staff-officer's features as he 
passed to the cavalryman a paper packet 
of cigarettes. 

"Well," said the staff- officer, as he 
lighted his cigarette from a little ball of 
live charcoal in the ash-tray at his elbow, 
" it is not I who wanted to see you. You 
have been sent for by a higher authority 



THE AFFAIR OF THE BRIDGE-GUARD. l73 

— he will see you now; come along 
with me." 

Thereupon the staflF-officer picked up his 
coat, shook it, and put it on, readjusted his 
sword-belt, and led Zamoto through a side- 
door into the neighbouring room. 

An elderly officer, with his shako awry 
and his tunic all unbuttoned, was sitting 
cross-legged on a chair. He was leaning 
over a map and sucking laboriously at a 
fat cigar. His butcher boots had evid- 
ently inconvenienced him, for they had 
been cast off and were lying under the 
table ; his socks were striped in black and 
white, and that of the left foot had a big 
hole in the heel. This was the picture 
that met Zamoto as he stood stiffly to 
attention, having brought his heels to- 
gether with smartness and precision. 

"Your Excellency, here is Lieutenant 
Zamoto." 

With this brief introduction the staff- 
officer withdrew and closed the door be- 



174 THE AFFAIB OF THE BBIDGE-GUAIID. 

hind him. The general inclined his head 
in acknowledgment of the entrance of his 
subordinates, and turning round in his 
chair, took a slip of paper out of a basket 
on the floor by his side. He gave one 
brief glance at the subaltern before him, 
and commenced to read from the paper. 

"You will proceed immediately to Yin- 
kow ; there you will report yourself to the 
Japanese consul, who will put you into 
communication with a certain person in 
Newchwang ; with the instructions of that 
person you will place yourself in communi- 
cation with a certain section of the Hun- 
hutzas. It will be your duty to use your 
knowledge of that part of China to organ- 
ise certain of these Hun-hutzas after the 
Japanese system. Of that system you are 
already aware. You will receive more 
definite instructions from time to time 
after you have arrived at Yinkow. You 
will proceed in a civilian capacity in any 
guise that you may see fit." 



THE AFFAIR OP THE BRIDOE-GUARI). 175 

. Having finished reading the paper, the 

little old man tossed it back in the basket, 

adding — 

" Do you understand clearly ? " 

The subaltern nodded his assent. "Then," 

continued the general, " understanding your 

duty, go and perform it well, looking for 

strength and guidance to the far-reaching 

power and goodness of our Emperor." 

Knowing he was dismissed, Zamoto 

bowed again,^ and rejoined the staflF-officer 

in the next room. 

• ••#•••• 

Five Chinamen were lying huddled close 
together on the raised platform which 
serves all Manchu households for a ^ bed. 
In spite of its paper windows and the state 
of the season outside, the interior of the 
room was not cold, at least not at the spot 
where the five men were lying, since it is 
the custom of these people in winter to 
maintain a permanent fire in an outhouse, 
the flue of which passes under the common 



178 THE AFFAIR OF THB BRIDGE-GUARD. 

bers of the fraternity of licensed highway- 
men who haunt the valley of the Liau-ho. 
It was evident that they had some des- 
perate work in hand, for the late -comer 
imparted his information to each in turn, 
and the men conversed in whispers. He 
then went to a brass -bound chest which 
stood against the household bed and 
opened the lid. It was full to the brim 
with barley. Taking off his for gauntlet, 
the Hun-hutza plunged his arm into the 
barley and drew out a metal cylinder. 
He repeated this operation until he had 
possessed himself of four similar cylinders : 
these he secreted in the big inside pouch 
of his fur robe. 

Thus equipped, the six men, leaving the 
lamp burning, stole out of the room — out 
through the pent-house, past the growling 
dogs, into the court beyond, across the 
courtyard to another building. The stamp- 
ing of hoofs on the frozen floor indicated 
that it was a stable. 



THE AFFAIR OF THE BRIDGE-GUARD. 179 

Six ponies were led out one by one, and 
then the great iron - bound and quaintly 
carved door of the courtyard was gingerly 
opened, and the six men led their horses 
through into the howling blizzard outside. 
They girthed up, mounted their unwiDing 
steeds, and in single file rode northwards. 
For an hour, perhaps, they travelled, con- 
stantly beating their arms against their 
sides to keep the circulation in their ex- 
tremities. 

At the end of an hour they arrived at a 
little group of trees. Here they halted and 
dismounted, two of the men remaining with 
the ponies, while the other four started out 
across the snow. The blizzards in Man- 
churia do not drift much snow that lies : 
it is the wind and the frost that kill on 
this vast steppe. But by now the fury of 
the storm had somewhat abated; and as 
there was no moon, and the recent snow 
had become slippery, their progress was 
slow. It was certain that their mission 



180 THE AFFAIR OF THE BBIDGE-GUABD. 

was one of extreme danger, and necessi- 
tated the utmost caution, for the men had 
cast their firearms loose, and had them 
ready to hand. It seemed, though it was 
difficult to see, that they were armed with 
modern rifles. 

Suddenly they halted again, and threw 
themselves flat on the snow. By the aid 
of the stars and the white mantle that 
covered the whole surface of the earth, 
by straining the eyes it was just possible 
to make out the outline of some obstacle 
ahead. It was evidently the objective of 
this desperate quartette. A well-known 
sound strikes the ear. There is the pant 
and fuss of a locomotive breasting an in- 
cline. It approaches nearer and nearer, 
and the four desperadoes lying flat on 
their stomachs can see the shower of sparks 
which the wood fuel emits from the funnel. 
The rise has been mastered, and fifty yards 
in front of the prostrate men the great 
train passes, shaking into a better pace as 



THE AEFAIB OF THE :6ItIDaE-GUABD. 181 

the last of its long load of waggons arrives 
above the crest. All is clear now. The 
four night-birds are train-wreckers working 
ia the Lrests of the Japanese against th! 
Eussian communications. 

The train passes, and the red light on 
the aftermost truck is disappearing in the 
far distance. Then the four men again 
begin to worm themselves forward on their 
stomachs. From time to time they hear 
the guttural shouts of the Siberian railway 
guards from an adjacent picket. The night 
is dark, and they trust to arrive at the line 
unseen. 

After a tedious and wearying half-hour 
they reach the edge of the cutting by the 
permanent way. The man with the cylin- 
ders ha« already thrust his hand inside 
his pouch, and is preparing to draw out 
the blasting charges. Suddenly there is 
a shout from behind. Anxiously each of 
the four turns his head in the direction 
of the sound. But they are too late, the 



182 THE AFFAIB OP THE BBIDGB-GUAKD. 

recent snow has dulled the sound of the 
hoofe, and before they can spring up and 
defend themselves they are at the mercy 
of a patrol of half a dozen Cossack lancers. 
To fight is impossible : three of the Hun- 
hutzas throw themselves on their knees 
and pray for mercy. The fourth, he with 
the cylinders, makes an effort to cast his 
rifle loose and defend himself; but the 
Cossack souS'Offider sees the movement, 
and, driving the butt of his lance hard into 
the wretch's stomach, hurls him breathless 
to the ground. 

It is a beautiful morning as these 'severe 
winter mornings go, and the two Russian 
officers in charge of the bridge-guard turn 
out of their snug little bivouac under the 
embankment to hear the report that the 
night patrols have captured four train- 
wreckers red-handed. 

** Bring them up," says the tall, fair, 
fur-covered senior, who is an officer from 



THE AFFAIR OF THE BRIDGE-GUARD. 183 

the European army, and has been posted 
to this section of the railway on account 
of the energy he has displayed in prevent- 
ing damage to the line by the marauding 
Hun-hutzas. The four wretched culprits 
are brought before him. Miserables, their 
captors had extended to them nothing of 
the hospitality of mean warmth which they 
themselves were able to find in the bivouac 
of the bridge-guard. Miserable indeed, but 
stoical withal. 

The Kussian officer, as he lit a cigarette, 
walked over to the prisoners and peered 
into the face of the shortest of the four. 
He took off the fur cap, and laying hold 
of the queue beneath, gave it a wrench. 
It came away in his hand. 

" Ha, ha ! I thought so ; it was too dar- 
ing for those wretched Manchus to have 
undertaken by themselves." And the tall 
Russian laughed loudly. The laugh died 
on his lips as he looked at the Japanese 
face before him ; he changed from his own 



184 THE AlTAnt OF THE BRIDGE-GUASD. 

tongue to French, looking the while like a 
man who has seen a ghost. 

" My God 1 " he said, " it must be the 
same : to think that you should have come 
to this 1 " 

The masquerading Japanese answered in 
halting French : " Yes, captain ; when we 
were comrades together in Eure-et-Loire, 
we never dreamed that it would come to 
this 1 " 

The Russian steadied himself, and, with- 
out saying a word, took out his cigarette- 
case and handed the Japanese a cigarette. 
Then he called his servant and ordered 
some spirits. 

" Perhaps you would prefer tea ? " he 
said to his sorry guest ; " it is quite ready, 
only I must apologise that it is Hussian 
tea." 

The little Japanese admitted that he 
would prefer the tea. As he drank it the 
Bussian captain grimly gave some orders 



THE AFFAIR OF THE BRIDGE-GUARD. 185 

to the escort, and, pulling out his watch, 
he reverted to French — 

" Lieutenant Zamoto, in five minutes you 
will be shot. It is the only concession I 
can make to you. Your three companions 
will be hanged immediately fi'om the bridge- 
girders. Grod be with you 1 " 



186 



XV. 

THE NAVAL SUB-LIEUTENANTS STOKY. 

This is the sub-lieutenant's story. 

He was sitting in one of the best bed- 
rooms in the Beach Hotel. He had pulled 
his chair as close to the stove as possible, 
and it seemed that every pore of his em- 
aciated frame was striving to absorb the 
gracious warmth, of which he had been 
deprived so long. His face was pale and 
drawn, and his eyes so sunken that the 
sockets seemed like two round saucers. 
But the anxious look was gone. Although 
his features showed the ravages of a ten 
months' campaign, yet for the moment they 
were at rest, and the whole attitude of the 
man indicated contentment and tranquillity. 
But his nervous system was still unstrung. 



THE NAVAL SUB-LIEUTENANT's STORY* 187 

At the slightest noise in the courtyard of 
the hotel he would start, and his features 
display that peculiar expression of watch- 
ful anxiety which comes to all men sooner 
or later if they be seriously engaged in the 
uncertain pastime of war. 

It seemed impossible that this frail shadow 
of a man, this unkempt ghost, could be the 
same happy-go-lucky boon companion that 
we had known twelve months ago in Genoa. 
The man who then talked of war as he 
would have talked of a wolf- hunt or a 
sleighing venture into the pine - forests. 
The man who, though scarcely out of his 
teens, could rival a full-grown dock-labourer 
in his capacity for drink. The man who 
fascinated us all, and yet in his successes 
and excesses left us but amateurs. But 
this is not our story. 

My friend, you wish me to tell you all 
about it. Why, it is the history of two 
generations and more : since we parted on 



188 THE NAVAL SUB-LIBUTENANT's STOKY. 

the deck of that Rubbatino steamer I have 
lived a hundred years. You, and those who 
have not been with us, can never know 
what we have been through. It is not 
that we have been beaten, — that is hard 
enough for any brave man to bear ; but 
we have been beaten by those whom we 
despise. And being beaten at such hands 
makes the punishment a slow torment. I 
tell you I have lived a hundred years. But 
. it is pleasant to be out of it : two weeks of 
this, and I shall be fit enough to go back. 
It makes me shudder to think of the state 
of the poor devils who are left behind. 
If they could only have a fortnight of this. 
[And he held one hand towards the grateful 
heat from the stove, while he gazed fondly 
at the white ash of the cigarette between 
his fingers.] They would be new men, and 
would make a very different history. But 
I wm teU it you aU from the beginning. 
After we parted in Italy, I went back 
to the Naval depot at Sevastopol, and I 



THE NAVAL SUB-LIEUTENANT's STORY. 189 

was there until the end of the year. We 
had rumours of war, — ^a delicate attention 
of your English press. We laughed at 
them then — that is to say, we sailors 
laughed. War with Japan ! Why, the 
thing was too absurd even to contemplate. 
With our powerful Pacific squadron, being 
reinforced as it was by a battleship and 
cruiser, it was impossible to believe that 
these little yellow devils would ever dare 
to think seriously of war. At least, that 
is what we were told. We had men 
amongst us who had served in the Pacific ; 
they plied us with stories of Nagasaki and 
Yokohama — stories over which we laughed 
and jested, stories that smacked of de- 
bauchery and vice. 

But although we juniors of the caf^s 
scofied at the idea of war, there were some 
amongst the seniors who shook their heads, 
and little by little we had evidences that 
the Naval department itself had become 
anxious. I received my orders on Christmas 



190 THE NAVAL SUB-LIEUTENANT's STORY. 

Day. I was appointed to the RetvisaUy 
and had instructions to proceed to Port 
Arthur at once. My brother officers gave 
me a send-off — a send-off again redolent 
of the delights of Nagasaki and Japanese 
tea-houses. They prophesied that I should 
take my fill of riotous living early in the 
spring, and it is curious how very nearly 
those prophecies were fulfilled. At least 
six times I narrowly missed going to Japan, 
but not to fill the same picture that my 
comrades had conjured up in their own 
minds. 

I shall never forget that journey to Port 
Arthur. I was the only sailor amongst a 
group of military officers hastening to the 
front. What a time we had I what dreams 
we dreamed ! what nightmares the realisa- 
tion of those dreams have proved ! It was 
evident that the stories that had reached 
us in Sevastopol were not the myths we 
then believed them to be. War — the cer- 
tainty of war — was stamped on every train 



THE NAVAL SUB-LIETJTENANT's STORY. 191 

steaming eastwards. Every station was a 
headquarters, every siding a rest-camp. All 
were gay, all were confident, and yet be- 
neath this air of gaiety and confidence 
there seemed to lurk a frenzied desire to 
heap more preparation into the twenty-four 
hours than the twenty- four hours could 
support. In spite of all the enthusiasm 
which is inseparable from the preliminaries 
of war, there seemed to be an undercurrent 
of unrest and uncertainty. The nearer one 
approached to the front the more this feel- 
ing of depression asserted itself Even in 
Mukden, which was fast becoming a vast 
military emporium, and where all that is 
bright and smiling and flourishing in the 
Far East seemed to have congregated, it was 
impossible not to read anxiety in the faces 
of the very men who were clinking their 
glasses amidst ribald jest and patriotic song 
in the beerhouses of which the town is full. 
War was then imminent, at least that was 
the whispered gossip in the cafi^s. Some said 



192 THE NAVAL SUB-UBUTENANT's STORY. 

that Japan had broken off negotiations, 
others that a settlement had been arrived 
at, and a third party gave information 
which fiUed me with dismay. It was said 
that the Bussian fleet had sailed with the 
object of defeating Japan. To me this was 
a bitter blow ; for if the Russian fleet had 
really sailed and had been able to base 
itself in some Japanese port, it might be 
long before I could join my ship. I 
thought of my comrades in Sevastopol; 
what a terrible misfortune for me it would 
be if we should establish ourselves in Japan 
and I had not been present to witness the 
first-fruits of our overpowering success 
against those presumptuous little yellow 
devils. But at Hai-cheng our train was 
delayed, and the one which followed us 
brought a naval officer of my acquaintance, 
who was coming down to Port Arthur with 
despatches from Vladivostock. He set my 
mind at rest about the sailing of the fleet. 
It was due to sail for Japan, but I had 



THE NAVAL SUB-LIEUTENANT's STORY. 193 

still three days in which to join. (Poor 
Michael ! he is dead and gone, like so many 
of the best. A Japanese 12-pounder shell 
finished him when his torpedo-boat sank 
one of their blockading steamers during a 
night raid.) But my temporary joy at this 
discovery was to be changed to sorrow at 
Kinchau. It was pretty cold, and as 
Michael and I jumped out on to the plat- 
form to have a turn to get exercise while 
the train waited, we were met by some 
officers of the Siberian Eifles. These men 
looked as if they were just returning from 
the funeral of some near relative. I shall 
always remember the shock I felt when 
they told their petrifying news. The Jap- 
anese had attacked before a declaration 
of war, and had torpedoed the two flag- 
ships of our squadron. Rumour had then 
exaggerated the story sixfold. Here I 
found myself about to join a vessel which 
they said was a sunken wreck in the 
entrance to our great harbour in the East. 

N 



194 THE NAVAL SUB-LIBUTBNANT's STORY. 

I had travelled these thousands of miles, 
with no thought in my heart but the pro- 
mise of success, to find that my duties 
would find me directing a salvage crew. 
It was too astounding to be believed, and 
we journeyed the last few miles to Port 
Arthur firm in the belief that this cana/rd 
had been circulated either through some 
Chinese source by our enemies, or to 
further some stratagem of our own. But 
in part it was true. I joined my ship on 
the following day, not as a sunken wreck, 
but as a more or less useless hulk placed 
upon the mud. 

It would be impossible to describe the 
feelings of the sailors in Port Arthur at the 
moment of my arrival. The whole force 
might well be likened to a man who had 
received a terrific blow that had taken the 
whole breath out of him. The juniors were 
accusing the seniors of incompetency, and 
the seniors were countering the accusation 
by bringing charges of neglect of duty and 



THE NAVAL SUB-LIBUTENANT's STORY. 195 

debauchery against the juniors. The men 
were all shaken, and there was no strong 
hand at the moment in sufficient authority 
to restore the morale which had been lost. 
I will pass over the history of the next 
month, when I was engaged with my ship- 
mates in the repairing of our battleship. 
Although it was not uncomfortable, I think 
it was the most despairing period of the 
whole war. We juniors knew that we 
should be up and doing. We, at least, 
could feel the indignity of remaining mag- 
netised as it were by this false lodestone of 
a fortress. We realised the disgrace of 
allowing an enemy, whom we had always 
despised, to treat us in the manner in which 
a parcel of schoolboys would treat a wasp's 
nest. Then came word of Makaroff. What 
hopes we built on Makaroff I But the cup 
of our humiliation was to be filled to the 
brim. If Makaroff had only been spared, 
if our Navy in the Far East could only 
have produced another man such as he, I 



196 THE NAVAL BUB-LIBUTKNANT's STORY, 

shouldn't be here, a fugitive, with only a 
story of disgrace and disaster to tell. 
Makaroff was a man ; and when in a Rus- 
sian you find a man, you find the best 
that nature fashions. With the advent of 
Makaroff I ceased my tedious labour of 
superintending the hammering of rivets. 
Makaroff was determined that the de- 
stroyer flotilla, which was at the time 
practically undamaged, should be used to 
counterbalance the disasters which had 
overtaken us. For this purpose quite a 
number of junior officers were selected. 
The choice falling on those who had the 
best record. I found myself appointed aa 
second in command of the Plotva. My 
commander was Ivan Kertch. A braver, 
truer, and finer sailor never clung on to the 
rail of a destroyer in a heavy sea than poor 
old Kertch. He is gone, like Michael and 
the rest of them. I wouldn't be surprised 
if I was an admiral, if I am spared, at the 
end of this war. 



THE NAVAL SUB-LIBUTBNANT's STORY. 19*7 

The restless energy which Makaroff dis- 
pUyed inspired the whole fleet with new 
hope and activity, more especially so in 
the destroyer flotilla. We on the Plotva 
were determined that if we could once get 
on even terms with the yellow boats, we 
would render a good account of ourselves* 
When I joined her she was tied up along- 
side a collier. Kertch wm in the cabin of 
the collier drinking whisky with the captain, 
who was a countryman of yours. Kertch 
had only just returned from patrol duty 
off Talien Bay. He was telling the captain 
how he had been chased by four Japs, and 
how he could steam two knots to their one. 
He received me with delight, and we 
stayed with your countryman for quite an 
hour. I do not forget that hour; it was 
the last really peaceful time I have had 
until I came here, and it is a matter of six 
months now since I first joined the Plotva. 
We cast off from the collier, and were run- 
ning into the basin when the Petropavlovsk 



198 THE NAVAL SUB-LIKUTENANT's STOBT, 

made our number, and we had orders to 
go back on patrol duty to Talien Bay. 

This at last was business, and my heart 
was full of joy and hope when we ran out 
under the stem of the Askold. She was 
doing guard-ship outside that night. It 
was a smooth sea ; although there was still 
a bite in the air, the weather had improved 
wouderfuUy. Outside the guaxd-ship we 
picked up the three other boats which 
formed our division, and steamed away 
down the coast for Dalny. The crew were 
busy cleaning up and polishing the tubes. 
Kertch and I were on the bridge; as we 
slipped through the water we talked of 
home, of the Naval College, and of all our 
mutual friends far away at Sevastopol. I 
remember I took my talisman out of my 
breast-pocket to polish it up a bit. Great 
heavens 1 I have no use for a talisman 
now. We made South Sanshan-tau just 
after dark, and then the commander of the 
division made a signal with the stern-lamp 



THE NAVAL SUB-LIBUTENANt's STORY. 199 

that we were to run in under the signal- 
station and lie to till morning. 

It was on the morrow that the real 
thing opened for me : hitherto I had been 
confined to the Retvisan^ and although I 
had heard the Japanese big shells hurtling 
overhead, and had seen the torpedo-boats 
fighting against the Japanese in the en- 
trance to the harbour, still I knew nothing 
of war. Before sunrise we were joined by 
two more destroyers fi*om Dalny. We had 
orders to patrol thirty miles south, and to 
return to Port Arthur by sundown. After 
midnight the wind had sprung up a little, 
and day broke to a dull leaden sky and 
choppy sea. The land was just disappear- 
ing under our stem when the commander 
signalled from the left — we were line 
abreast — that he could make out smoke 
to the south-west, and that we were to go 
ahead and reconnoitre. This meant busi- 
ness. I had never heard a more cheering 
sound than that telegraph, ^'Full steam 



200 THE NAVAL STTB-LIBUTENANT's STOEY. 

ahead ! " Away we slid through the water, 
raising a great wave that came squelching 
over our whale-back. We, too, made out 
the smoke ; and as soon as we shortened 
the interval, it developed into four little 
black balloons with a speck below, which 
indicated boats of our own class. We 
knew that they must be Japanese, because 
at the moment we were the outside patrol 
of the whole fleet. Kertch and I had our 
glasses fixed on them, and we made out 
that it was a Japanese division coming our 
way. Kertch stood steadily on : he knew 
his turn of speed, and was satisfied that 
there was nothing in the Japanese that 
could come near us when it came to quick 
moving. He had not yet called the men 
to quarters, and it was interesting to watch 
their eager faces as they leaned over the 
rail and shaded their eyes to get a view of 
this enemy with whom they were longing 
to come to terms. Fine fellows! I won- 
der how many of that crew are alive to- 



THE NAVAL SUB-LIEUTEKANt's STOEY. 201 

day ? We stood on until we were within 
three thousand metres of them, until 
Kertch was certain that he could make 
out the dingy red of their hateful flag. 
Then we put about, and in making the 
sweep lost a little way. The Japanese 
meant business, and they were cramming 
in the coal ; we could only hope that your 
English manufacturers had cheated them 
in their wares, and that their engines 
would prove a fair sample of British trade 
duplicity ; but they seemed to hold, for as 
we raced back to our own flotilla their 12- 
pounder projectiles splashed and ricochetted 
all round us. But we easily drew away 
from them, made our signals, and rejoined 
our own division, taking up our place on 
the left of the line abreast. 

The flotilla was now in the hands of 
Commander Brieleff, the senior officer in 
our division. He made the signal to 
attack in echelon, our centre to endeavour 
to break through the enemy's centre and 



202 THB NAVAL SUB-LIBUTBNANT's STORY. 

thus divide him in two, so that the fire 
of three of our boats might be concentrated 
on two of his. We stood on at half-speed 
until only 2000 metres separated us. The 
Japanese had opened out a little. It was 
a fine spectacle, our six boats in line, a 
cable's distance apart, bearing down on the 
four lean Japs, who, to prevent us fi:om over- 
lapping, had opened out to about a cable 
and a half. Like ourselves, our enemy had 
reduced his speed. We were all now 
standing to quarters. Kertch was on the 
bridge, I was down with the 6-pounder 
forward. The men were joking and con- 
gratulating each other on the opportunity 
we should now have of paying off old 
scores. Brieleff made a special number. 
It was the Stereguchiy the boat next him 
in the line. The flags read, "Conform to 
my movements." Before the signal to the 
rest of his flotilla was made, the Japanese 
opened fire with their 12-pounders. They 
carried 12-pounders, we only 6-pounders. 



THE NAVAL StTB-LIBXTTENANT*S STORY. 203 

Then came the flotilla signal, '^ Echelon 
from the centre, full steam ahead, engage." 
Merrily chimed the telegraph - bells, and, 
when our turn came, we felt the Plotva^ 
like a racehorse to the spur, bound forward 
underneath us. All the rest is a tangle 
of disjointed memories. We were on the 
extreme left of the line abreast. I can 
only tell you the confiised threads as I 
recollect them. I remember glancing to 
starboard, and noticing the five paraUel 
wakes of our flotilla, which seethed up 
above the breeze ripple. Then the smack 
of the 6 -pounder and the whirr of the 
maxims brought me to my duties. " That's 
a hit," shouted the No. 1 of my crew, and 
at the same moment a shell exploded on 
our rail. A splinter hit the hopper of the 
gun, glanced, and then the ear, moustache, 
and cheek of the No. 1 were gone. He 
stood a moment, drenching the lever in 
his hand with blood, then sank to the 
deck, while another seized the slimy handle 



204 THE NAVAL SXJB-LIEITTBNANT's STORY. 

and shoulder grip. I noticed that the men 
at our boat -rail were firing with rifles. 
The new No. 1 swung the gun round, and 
I could see that we had changed our course, 
and now had a Japanese destroyer abeam 
on the port side. My eye caught the 
blood -red radiations on its smoke -fouled 
bunting. Its funnels were belching flame, 
while it was so close that the incessant 
flash from its quick-firers hurt the eye. 
Projectiles swished above us ; but at the 
moment I did not realise that we were 
the target. My gun had stopped firing. 
"Ammunition!" I shouted, and then real- 
ised for the first time that I alone of all 
my gun -crew was standing. My fellows 
were a heap of hideously mutilated flesh. 
As I sprang to the gun, I recognised 
amidst the streaks of crimson remainder 
a handless forearm. On it was the cher- 
ished tattooed geisha of my servant Alexis. 
Men from the tube came to aid me, and 
then the vessel heeled as if she had col- 



THE NAVAL SUB-LIEUTENANT's STOBY. 205 

lided. The wreck of the maxim from the 
bridge was swept along the deck, and 
imbedded itself steaming and hissing in 
the pile of hmnan offal at my feet. Again 
the vessel heeled, and I felt myself seized 
by the hand. 

" Excellency, Excellency, the commander 
is killed. Come quickly to the bridge. 
We are alone — the other boats have fled." 

How I got to the bridge I cannot say : 
I remember that the hand-rail was twisted 
like a corkscrew. What a scene ! Save 
for the wheel, steersman, and binnacle, the 
bridge was swept clean. Maxim mounting, 
commander. raU, were a tangled mass trail- 
ing alongside. As I clung to a funnel-stay, 
I was actually looking down the smoking 
throat of a Japanese 12-pounder not six 
fathoms distant. Black, hissing, and bat- 
tered, the boat was closing on us like some 
hideous sea - monster. A dozen of her 
ruffian crew with short swords in their 
hands were gathered forward to spring 



206 THE NAVAL BTTB-LIEnTENANT's 8T0BT. 

upon US. There was not time to give an 
order. The men were now jumping. But 
my steersman had put over his helm. 
There was a grinding jar. and we slithered 
past them. cLying away their rails and 
Lard hamTT a' d finding to pulp, 
against our plates, such of their boarders 
as had jumped short. As we shook clear 
our 6 -pounder belched into her vitals, 
and a great geyser of steam shrieked out 
amidships from between her smoke-stacks. 
I remember seeing my men pitchfork the 
four little devils who had boarded us 
over the side with their bayonets, and 
then I pitched headlong on to the ddbris 
of gun -crew and maxim on the deck 
below. A rifle bullet had just missed 
my spine and perforated my right lung. 
The engineer brought the Plotva out. 
How we escaped I don't know, for the 
yellow devils seemed all round us. But 
our speed saved us, though they got the 
poor old Stereguchi. 



THE NAVAL SUB-LIEUTENANTS STORY. 207 

What happened? You may well ask! 
Why, the two boats which belonged to 
"C" Division — not to ours — never carried 
out BrieleflTs orders. So we came in as 
a single echelon on a short front. Their 
left boat got Brieleff and the whole lot 
of us broadside on, and broke us up. This, 
in conjunction with their superiority in gun 
calibre, beat us. We've got 12-pounders 
now, when it is too late. 

What happened to me after that? I 
was six weeks in hospital. That was a 
fearful period, because we lost our fleet 
then. That is, we lost Makaroff in the 
Petropavlovsk ; and when Makaroff went, 
we felt that we couldn't hope to do much 
until we were reinforced from Europe. 

I was just convalescent in hospital 
when the Makaroff disaster overtook us. 
Although we have since often been de- 
pressed in Port Arthur, I don't think that 
we ever pcussed through a worse twenty- 
four hours than that which followed the 



208 THE NAVAL SUB-LIBUTBNANT's STORY. 

loss of the Petropavlovsk. In the last 
week of April I came out of hospital, and 
was almost immediately given the command 
of a destroyer. The boat I got was the 
ill-fated Reshitelni. We had a good run 
together while she was in my command. 
We see by the papers that have reached 
us in Port Arthur that nothing was done 
by the Russian flotilla. This is a mis- 
statement. We worked devilish hard. 
Some day, when this war is over, several 
losses and damages which the Japanese 
have said nothing about will be placed 
to our credit. In May Togo was at his 
old blockading games again; but his last 
effort in this direction was a dismal failure. 
I was out that night with three other 
boats, and we sank every one of the 
blockading boats in deep water. Our 
success has been sufficiently proved, since 
the yellow devils never attempted similar 
waste of merchant tonnage again. I should 
like to dwell on this, because we in Port 



THE NAVAL SUB-LIBUTENANT's STORY. 209 

Arthur — at least, we who have proved 
ourselves good sailors — resent all that 
has been said about our incapability. I 
promise you, my friend, that we juniors 
were not at fault ; and if only some of us 
could have had a higher command in the 
beginning, we should never have seen the 
wreckage of our beautiful fleet. But it is 
no good crying over spilt milk ; some of us, 
I doubt not, will be on the future Bussian 
ships when they are universally success&l. 

But to continue my story. During the 
first week in May I was selected by the 
Admiral to take the Reshitelni on a night 
reconnaissance to the Elliot Group, where 
Togo had now based himself We were 
not quite certain what part of the group he 
was using as his base, and if the scheme 
were found practicable, it was the intention 
of the Admiral to launch an attack against 
him with the three divisions of destroyers 
that were still sea -going. I was piloted 
out of the harbour by the mine-tug in the 

o 



210 THB NAVAL 8UB-LIBUTENANT's STORY. 

afternoon, and I lay up under Grolden Hill 
until about eight o'clock. The sea had got 
up a little; but in consultation with my 
engineer I came to the conclusion that it 
was not too rough for our enterprise. We 
had thirty miles to cover to Talienwan, and 
forty miles on from there, in all about a 
four hours' trip if we went direct; but I 
had to make a considerable sweep, so it was 
not until past midnight that I arrived off 
the southern entrance to the group. Here 
I found at least ten merchantmen anchored ; 
I could not go close enough to make out 
their escort, but we from our low position 
could count their masts and funnels against 
the lighter sky. If I had not been alone 
and under special instructions to discover 
the anchorage of the warships, I should 
have attacked these transports as they lay. 
But as I could discover the tops of only one 
man-of-war, I determined to search round 
the island in the hope of finding out Togo's 
real anchorage. Then, having accomplished 



THE NAVAL SUB-LIEUTBNANT's STORY. 211 

that, to return to have a smack at these 
boats. Half an hour's cautious steaming 
brought me round to the northern entrance. 
We saw nothing, so we lay to under the 
rocks while three Chinese spies and one able 
seaman went ashore in the boat. While we 
were lying to waiting for them to return, 
we made out what seemed to be a flotilla of 
torpedo craft leaving the entrance : they 
were showing stern lights, and we counted 
five of these. From this we calculated that 
it was a flotilla being piloted out by a 
picket-boat, since we distinctly heard one 
of the boats returning. I had allowed the 
landing-party one hour, telling them that if 
they were not back within that time they 
would run the risk of being left behind. 
They actually returned in an hour and a 
quarter, and joined us just as the picket- 
boat was passing back. It was a ticklish 
moment, and I feared for a second that the 
picket-boat would catch the sound of their 
wash. But it was not so. They brought 



212 THB NAVAL SUB-LIBUTJENANT's 6T0RT. 

magnificent information. According to their 
accounti we were lying as a crow flies within 
two thousand metres of Togo's battle squad- 
ron. My A.B. had been able to count the 
larger vessels, and the Chinamen, recon- 
noitring separately, had discovered the boom 
and the position of the shore coal-supply. 

Having taken such bearings as were 
possible in the darkness, we started off 
again with the intention of paying our 
transport friends a visit. I should point 
out that this transport fleet, although 
lying at one of the anchorages at the 
entrance to the main bay in the group, 
was suflSciently screened from the Port 
Arthur direction by two of the largest 
islands. Owing to the big sweep that I 
had made, I had come in from the north- 
east, whereas the Japanese would have 
anticipated an attack from our direction 
to come from the south-west. I therefore 
determined to dash clean through the 
anchorage, torpedoing such boats as I could. 



THE NAVAL SUB-LIEXJTBNANT*S STORY. 213 

My course would then be from west to east. 
By returning on a parallel line. I might 
still be able to do further damage, and slip 
out the same way that I had come. 

I felt certain that I had eluded the 
patrolling flotilla by coming from the north- 
west, and I therefore determined to break 
out the same way. We crept up to our 
original vantage-point unperceived. Then 
followed a glorious five minutes : we went 
through them full steam ahead, steering 
directly for the vessel whose fighting-tops 
we could make out above the skylight. 
We discharged two torpedoes, one against 
a big merchantman that looked like a con- 
verted cruiser, the other against the vessel 
with the tops : it was either a coast-defence 
ship or a gunboat. We know the latter 
torpedo took effect, because we saw the 
phosphorescent wave caused by the ex- 
plosion and heard the report. We were 
through them and gone before they quite 
realised what had happened. But we 



214 THE NATAL SUB-LIKUTENANT^S STOBY. 

heard bo'suns' pipes, Bhouts, and yells. I 
put the boat about, with the intention of 
making another attack as soon as the tubes 
were recharged. Just as we came about, a 
quick-firer opened on us fix)m some fifteen 
fathoms' distance. We had evidently run 
into the patrol-boats. I gave the order 
that nothing was to be fired, and went fall 
steam ahead for the entrance, feeling that 
this would stop the firing. It was neck 
or nothing now, and any moment we might 
have been on the rocks. We were, how- 
ever, pretty used to the darkness by this, 
although we had not now the sky-line to 
guide us. It was a choice between the 
rocks or fouling one of the merchantmen. 
We were abreast of one of them before 
we realised her position; it was evidently 
a transport, and they made out the glare 
from our funnels. They opened a musketry 
fire. It was wild and uncertain, and not 
very eflTective. The bullets mostly went 
high, but a certain number came pretty 
near us, and I, as usual, was unfortunate. 



THE NAVAL SUB-LIEUTENANT's STORY. 215 

Hardly out of bed a fortnight, I got an- 
other shot through the chest. But I was 
able to keep the bridge until we reached 
our original point of entry. Then, with 
my tunic stiff with blood, I handed 
over command to my sub-lieutenant, and 
he brought us back to Port Arthur 
safely by daybreak. . We discharged one 
torpedo in our break-away, but whether it 
took effect it is impossible to say; how- 
ever, we are certain that we torpedoed 
a coast - defence ship or a gunboat that 
night, and if you look up the records 
about that date, you will probably find 
that a Japanese ship was lost, and 
possibly a transport as well. Doubtless 
mines will be given as the cause of the 
disaster. 

By the time that I was landed I was a 
very fair wreck. It is pretty hard luck for 
a man to get hit badly again after he has 
only just recovered firom a perforated limg. 
I was in hospital two months with this 
wound, and a real bad time I had. It is 



216 TH£ NAVAL SUB-LIEUTENANT'S STOBT. 

for this reason that I lost all the glorious 
experience which the flotilla had when the 
mines laid by the Amur sank the two 
Japanese battleships and the cruiser. I 
was so bad during the first month of this 
my second turn in hospital, that I didn't 
know much about anything that was taking 
place. I was not well enough to sit up and 
receive visits from my friends untU after 
the fleet returned from its attempt to leave 
Port Arthur in June. 

You ask me what the state of affairs in 
Port Arthur was at that time ? I think I 
can express it in three words, '^Besigned 
and determined." We had now realised 
that we could not hope to extricate our- 
selves without help from Europe. Until 
the battle of Tehlitz, we had hoped that 
our investment would be only temporary ! 
But when Stackelberg was driven back to 
the north, we realised that we had to suffer 
not only investment but a heavy siege. 

The garrison was generally cheerful. 



THE NAVAL SUB-LIEUTENANT's STOBY. 217 

There was plenty of food and ammunition, 
and there will be plenty of food and 
ammunition to the end. They talked of 
the advent of the Baltic Fleet, but we 
sailors knew that it would be impossible 
for that fleet to reach us this year ; and we 
doubted that, even in the most favourable 
of circmnstances, it would be able to arrive 
in Chinese waters until next spring. We 
were also very anxious about our own 
Pacific Squadron. All the damaged ships 
had been repaired, but there was every fear 
that the passage of the channel and the 
dearth of coal would prohibit us taking the 
offensive. The passage we were able to 
negotiate, but not readily, therefore there 
was no hope of taking the fleet out under 
cover of a fog or bad weather. As to the 
state inside Port Arthur when I left, you 
can hardly expect me to tell you much 
beyond that there is no want of food, 
ammunition, or spirit to maintain the de- 
fenders of the fortress to the bitter end. 



218 THE NAVAL SUB-LXEUTENANT's STOBT. 

Tea, things in the hospital were bad ; 
you could hardly expect them to be other- 
wise. Tou must bear in mind that we 
started the investment with all the Nan- 
shan wounded. There were sufficient of 
these almost to fill all the available hospital 
space. Tou should remember that there 
were very few rifle wounds from this battle ; 
nearly every wounded man in hospital was 
suffering from the effect of shell-fire, and 
the majority of shell wounds keep men in 
hospital far longer than rifle wounds. Then 
from time to time we had the wounded from 
the fleet, and towards the end of June the 
siege operations filled the hospitals till they 
overflowed. 

No, I don't think you can expect me to 
answer that question. I don't mind telling 
you my own adventures ; but I am not 
going to enter into a political argument, 
nor am I going to discuss the present or 
the future. 

To return to my own story : I was 



THE NAVAIi sub-lieutenant's STORY. 219 

passed fit for duty on July 14, and on 
the following day I rejoined my old com- 
mand the Reshitdni. As in the case of 
my first command, I fell in with an ad- 
venture the very first night I took a boat 
out. You probably know we were then 
using half the remaining vessels of our 
torpedo flotilla in piloting boats that were 
bringing us food and warlike stores into 
the port. Our agents used to bring their 
cargoes to a certain place where we were 
able to collect it and take it to Fort 
Arthur. I need not give you more de- 
tails; but as the Japanese have now put 
an end to this traffic fi*om this particular 
locality, there is no harm in talking about 
it. You remember we were much troubled 
during the early months of the war by 
various American and English newspaper- 
boats, which, claiming the rights of neutrals, 
were used in the interests of Japan. The 
most noxious of these was one equipped 
with wireless telegraphy. We never sighted 



220 THE NAVAL SUB-XJEUTENANT's 8T0BT. 

her except in dose proximity with Bome 
portion of the Japanese fleet. The admiral 
therefore issued instructions that if any of 
us met her we were to sink her and bLg 
the ofiicers and crew in as prisoners to b! 
dealt with by a court-martial. Well, when 
I was steering my course for the certain 
place, there suddenly loomed up out of the 
darkness in front of us a small steamer 
showing Ughts. At first we naturally 
thought it was one of the blockaders 
masquerading as a legitimate trader. But 
there was something about her seen in the 
misty darkness which called to mind the 
press -boat, and then we made out, or at 
least at the moment we thought we made 
out, her wireless apparatus hanging from 
her mainmast. 

Having satisfied ourselves that this was 
the case, we obeyed orders. It was not 
until we picked up the captain, passengers, 
and crew that we realised we had been 
in error. The vessel proved to be the 



THE NAVAL SUB- LIEUTENANT'S STORY. 221 

Hipsang. We should not have torpedoed 
her if she had immediately answered our 
summons to stop ; but as we made her out 
to be a press-boat, and as she did not slow 
down at once, we naturally could not give 
her the benefit of the doubt, and so we 
sank her. Such mistakes and accidents 
must occur in war. 

I was relieved of my commaDd on axj- 
count of this trouble, and for about three 
weeks became a soldier — that is to say, I 
took over one of the forts that was manned 
by the reserve sailors from the fleet. I 
cannot say that this was an uninteresting 
experience, although of course it had at 
that time none of the excitement attaching 
to a buccaneering life on a destroyer. But 
it was very restful; and as they put the 
Hipsang incident down to my having been 
shaken by my two wounds, they thought 
it better that I should be rested by doing 
shore duty for a period. I was placed on 
one of the Liautishan defences, so there 



222 THE NAVAL SUB-UBUTENAKT's STOBT. 

was little for me to do but to watch the 
constant mine-clearing operations in the 
entrance. Tou cannot expect me to say 
much that is good for the Japanese; but 
I must admit that they carried their at- 
tempts to lay mine-fields in our fairway 
with the utmost bravery and persistence 
during my period at Liautishan. They 
must have lost at least half a dozen 
torpedo-boats in night attempts upon the 
fairway. To give an honest opinion, they 
were far too persistent, for they would 
possibly have brought about better results 
if they had been contented to lay their 
mines farther out to sea. We had by this 
a complete system for dragging the har- 
bour channel, so that anything they an- 
chored close in was certain to be exploded 
on the following morning. But the Japan- 
ese don't fear death, and fifty per cent of 
them prefer to kill themselves sooner than 
suffer the ignominy of capture. 

The month's pastime of watching from 



THE NAVAL SUB-LIEUTENANT'S STORY. 223 

the summit of a mountain was occasionally 
broken by a little long-range practice 
against the more bold of the blockading 
squadron ; but at this time, although we 
occasionally made out battleships and cruis- 
e« CO Jhori^n, yet they nle. «»e in 
to engage us. The torpedo craft and gun- 
boats were constantly to be seen ; also from 
a certain point in our mountain we could 
catch a very considerable view of some of 
the investing lines, — but there were strict 
orders in oiir section that we were not to 
waste ammunition in long-range practice 
against the beseigers. 

You ask what was the eflPect of shell-fire 
in Port Arthur. Well, it was very dis- 
agreeable, though I don't think it was very 
harmful at this period : it caused a certain 
number of casualties, especially amongst 
the Chinese, but the parallels had not yet 
been pushed up near enough to have the 
disastrous effect on the buildings and works 
that they have since had. 



224 THB NAVAL SUB-LIEUTENANT'S STORT. 

At the beginning of August I was re- 
lieved of my shore duties, and was ap- 
pointed acting flag-lieutenant to Admiral 
Prince Ukhtomskj, second in command of 
the Pacific Squadron. I joined him on the 
Peresviet. Big business was on hand ; 
messages had come through that it was 
imperative that the Pacific Squadron should 
leave Port Arthur, and either fight a fleet 
action with the Japanese fleet, or make its 
way to Vladivostock. There was to be no 
middle course, no turning back. It was to 
be either a decisive engagement at sea, or, 
if we should succeed in eluding the yellow 
man, a dash for the shores of Japan, and 
then Vladivostock. 

Judging from your papers, you people 
seemed to think that the whole morale of 
the Bussian Pacific Fleet had been shat- 
tered, and that we were worth nothing. 
You were quite wrong. We might not 
have had the same confidence which we 
possessed at the beginning of the year; 



THE NAVAL SUB-LIBUTENANX's STORY. 225 

but I assure you a grim determination had 
permeated all ranks to do something to 
wipe off the stigma of disgrace which was 
hanging over us. The veiled taunts which 
reached us from the highest authorities at 
home were sufficient to have made a hero 
of the veriest craven. We felt — that is, 
we juniors did— that bad luck had been 
with us from the very outset, and that 
the time would come when we should get 
an opportunity, and we were determined 
that when that opportunity came we would 
not be found wanting in the spirit to avail 
ourselves of it. The fleet was coaled to 
its utmost capacity, and every arrange- 
ment made in order that the passage from 
the inner to the outer harbour might be 
taken as expeditiously as possible. Orders 
were issued . to every captain, containing 
strict injunctions as to the course to be 
pursued in the event of success, partial 
success, partial failure, or absolute failure ; 
and after receiving assurances from both 

P 



226 THE NAVAL SUB-LIEUTENANT's STORY. 

home and Stoessel that the moment was 
propitious, with a final blessing from the 
garrison, we made the passage of the en- 
trance on the night of August 9th, and 
put to sea on the 10th. 

Luck was against us from the outset. 
The Bayan damaged herself in making the 
passage, and we had perforce to start one 
vessel short. Now, I want you to under- 
stand that when we left Port Arthur 
that morning, and saw the great mass of 
rocks disappearing over our quarter, we, 
none of us, not one, from captain to coal- 
trimmer, ever expected to see that harbour 
again, unless we returned with a victory to 
our credit. That was the spirit which 
animated the whole fleet, and that was 
the spirit which kept us fighting through- 
out that day. We knew that we should 
have to fight, that it was impossible for us 
to get away, since the Japanese must have 
been aware of the fact that we were bring- 
ing our battleships to the outer anchorage. 



THE NAVAL SUB-LIEUTENANT's STORY. 227 

Nor were we mistaken, for we had barely 
made thirty miles before Togo's fleet ap- 
peared on our port bow. We — that is, 
the Peresviet — were the fourth ship in the 
battleship squadron. We were making 
from about twelve to fourteen knots. How 
anxiously we scanned the Japanese ships! 
There was the fleet that had brought about 
all our disgrace and disaster; there were 
the men whom we had pledged ourselves to 
destroy or die in the attempt. We counted 
the vessels — there were four line-of-battle 
ships and four first-class cruisers ; and we 
were six battleships and four cruisers. The 
Japanese were accompanied by at least 
eight divisions of torpedo craft ; it was to 
be a final arbitrament between battle fleet 
and battle fleet. The advantage in ships 
and weight of metal was ours, but they 
also had advantages which overbalanced 
our numerical superiority. In the first 
place, we had to economise coal ; our ships 
had deteriorated considerably through the 



228 THE NAVAL SUB-LIBUTBNANT's STORY. 

stress of inactive war, by which I mean 
that they were not all as serviceable as 
they would have been if we had been able 
to give them proper dockyard attention. 
Also, the Japanese had had far more 
practice in gunnery than we; but we 
hoped that their weapons had somewhat 
deteriorated by use, while, alas ! this could 
not be said of ours, — at least, not to the 
same degree. The Japanese Admiral made 
the best use of his superior speed. From 
his manoeuvres it would seem he feared 
that we did not intend to give him battle. 
Little did he know the feeling on our decks. 
About mid-day he crossed our bows, and 
then, changing from line abreast, he man- 
oeuvred as though he would refiise a battle. 
Previous to this there had. been a slight 
exchange of shots, but this was nothing, — 
it was only just a little range-finding. It 
was not until after two that the real battle 
opened. Before this the Japanese Admiral 
had manoeuvred constantly, until he con- 



THE NAVAL SUB-LIBUTBNANT's STORY. 229 

sidered it time to admit of an engagement. 
He was now almost abreast of us, 7000 to 
8000 metres on our starboard beam. Both 
fleets were line ahead, and in this formation 
the battle opened. 

We were six battleships, the Japanese 
four and two cruisers, in line ahead. We 
were now the fourth vessel in the line. 
The flag-ship hoisted the signal " Engage," 
and immediately the firing commenced. 
This phase of the battle lasted for about 
an hour. It was severe, but not so severe 
as that which was to come, for our Admiral 
had now altered his course so as to reduce 
the distance between the fleets. The vessel 
which we had selected for our own partic- 
ular target was one of the Fuji type ; and 
although the sea was rising and made 
gunnery at the present range extremely 
difficult, yet we made at least three hits 
with our heavy guns, and at one time 
our target seemed to be on fire. We re- 
ceived no damage except to the mainmast, 



230 THE NAVAL SUB-LIBUTENANT's STORY. 

which was carried away by a ricochet from 
a shell that had exploded short of us on 
impact with the water; nor did the ships 
ahead of us seem to have received any very 
serious damage, though the Retvisan and 
the Pobieda were both hit. 

There was a short respite — of perhaps 
half an hour — while the two fleets were 
converging, and then the action reopened 
with desperate violence. The distance had 
been reduced to about 6000 metres. How 
the general trend of the action went it is 
almost impossible for those who took part 
in it as executive officers to say : all one 
knows is what happened to one's own 
vessel and to one's target. We still 
continued to engage the vessel of the 
Fuji type, while she or such other of 
the Japanese vessels that had singled us 
out seemed to find their range in quick 
succession. Two 12 -inch shells hit us 
amidships : one glanced upwards and burst 
in the air; the other carried our foremast 



THE NAVAL SUB- LIEUTENANT'S STORY. 231 

away, and wrecked a portion of the upper 
bridge. The tumult was appalling, for we 
had now arrived at quick-firer range, and 
a continuous stream of 12 -pounder pro- 
jectiles was passing above us, exploding 
on our plates, or damaging our super- 
structure. Ever and again at intervals 
some great projectile would hit us, doing 
woeful damage ; but for the main part the 
heavy projectiles missed, and we on the 
bridge were so intent in watching for 
signals from the flag-ship and in con- 
forming to the fleet movements that we 
had little time to estimate either the 
damage to ourselves or the damage which 
we effected. 

What we did notice, at least, and what 
appealed to us all, was the fact that one 
of the Japanese battleships hauled out of 
the firing-line just at the same moment 
as their fleet was reinforced by two more 
first-class cruisers. It seemed to us at the 
moment that we were getting the best of 



232 THJfi NAVAL SUB-LIEXTTENANT's 8T0BT. 

it, and when the Japanese ship hauled out 
of the line a cheer commenced from the 
deck of the Tsarevitch which passed all 
down our line. The sea also was g^etting 
»p. and the aua w« »nkbg in Li ^ 
us: for the first time for many months 
the hope of victory grew strong within our 
breasts. 

Our three leading ships seemed to be 
concentrating their fire on the Mikccsa, 
which led the enemy's line. That their 
shells were having great eflfect we could 
see, for the Japanese flag -ship was con- 
stantly hidden from our view by the dense 
smoke which the explosions on her decks 
had caused. Then, just at this moment, 
when it seemed at last fortune had veered 
in our favour, the destiny which rules the 
law of chances turned against us. All we 
knew at the time was that our flag-ship 
had abruptly changed her course. She 
swung to port without warning and 
without signal, before it was realised that 



THE NAVAL SUB-LIBUTENANT's STOBY^ 233 

she was hit, and that her course had been 
changed, not from necessity but from the 
fact that she could not steer : the second 
vessel had followed her round so closely 
that a collision was narrowly avoided. 
As there was no signal yet from the flag- 
ship, we all conformed to this strange 
manoeuvre ; but the intervals having been 
lost in the heat of the engagement, the 
squadron became a mob of vessels with- 
out formation. But even this need not 
have been final if the flag -ship could 
only have made her signal. Then came 
a paralysing intimation that the Admiral- 
in- Chief had transferred the command. 
We knew what that meant, — either that 
he was killed or wounded; and my own 
Admiral immediately ordered the fleet 
signal for the squadron to conform to his 
own movements. 

And here the bitterness of our cup was 
filled to the absolute brim. We had lost 
both our masts, and we had not where- 



234 THE NAVAL 8UB-LIEUTENANT's STORY. 

with to hoist this signal, which was neces- 
sary to resuscitate order out of chaos. 
Nor had the Japanese been slow to realise 
their opportunity, and they were throwing 
projectiles into us with a rapidity of fire 
that was absolutely appalling in its results. 
My Admiral did all that he could do in 
the circumstances. He steamed ahead, 
flying the signal from a smoke-stack ; but 
it was too late. The cohesion was ir- 
revocably lost, and the various captains, 
apparently interpreting the worst clause 
in their final instructions, saved themselves 
by flight. It passeth the understanding 
of men that the Japanese did not sink a 
single one of us ; and this fact indorses 
my belief that it was sheer bad luck and 
not good gunnery and seamanship that 
beat us. 

Thus closes the history of the Russian 
Pacific Fleet, as far as I can give it you. 
What its ultimate end will be, you and 
I can guess. But this I can promise you. 



THE NAVAL SUB-LIEUTENANT'S STORY. 235 

my friend — that, even if it takes Russia ten 
years to build another and adequate Fleet, 
and if it is manned by the same material 
as this last, it will sweep everything in 
these waters before it. We have learnt 
our lesson. 



236 



XVL 

OF AN OFFICEE'S PATROL. 

The subaltern commanding the officer's 
patrol was well satisfied with his day's 
work. And he had right to be, for, after 
covering forty miles, he had procured all 
the information required from him. It 
had been an exceptionally hard day. The 
country was more or less water-logged, and 
it had been impossible for him to keep his 
patrol on the roads. The going had been 
so bad that the major portion of the 
journey had been undertaken on foot. 
Both men and horses were thoroughly 
tired, and the subaltern determined to 
rest for three hours before pushing back 
to headquarters. 

He had reconnoitred right up to Fu- 



OF AN OFFICEB's PATROL. 237 

chau from Wa-fang-tien. He and his six 
troopers had carried out this reconnaissance 
without firing or drawing a single shot. 
They had estimated the strength of the 
Russian forces gathered at Wa-fang-tien, 
and had made their way back a third of 
the distance to Pu-lien-tien. For an hour 
at least they had seen no sign of the 
Russian screen; and as it was essential 
to procure a reliable Chinese guide, the 
subaltern determined to rest in a small 
village which lay at the extreme end of 
the valley they had just entered. 

He reconnoitred the village with every 
precaution, and finding it empty, after 
posting a sentry at the approach by which 
he had entered, led his patrol up to the 
chief villager's house. The village at first 
seemed to be deserted ; but the officer 
dismounted before the great wooden gates 
of the chief residence, and, undismayed by 
the frightful caricatures of the god of war 
and demons painted on the panels, knocked 



238 OF AN officer's PATROL. 

loudly. The only response for the time 
being was the barking of dogs within. But 
presently the grille in the wall chamber 
to the left of the entrance was pulled 
aside, and amid the opium Aimes emitted, 
appeared the yellow face of the janitor. 
It is safe to conjecture that the inmates 
feared a visit from Cossacks, for as soon 
as the janitor realised that the wayfarers 
were Japanese, he immediately closed the 
grille cover, and shuffled round to open 
the ponderous gates. 

The great iron-bound doors swung in- 
wards. The patrol dismounted and led 
their horses into the courtyard within. 
The Japanese in their manners are polite, 
but they do not make war with kid 
gloves; and while the subaltern was en- 
gaging the janitor in conversation by means 
of ideographs, scraped with the point of his 
sword on the clay floor of the courtyard, 
the troopers were leading their horses to 
the byres and regaling the hungry animals. 



OP AN officer's patrol. 239 

After the subaltern had wasted much effort 
in trying to make the janitor understand, 
that worthy finally shook his head and 
pointed to the house, and then it was, and 
then only, that the owner and his two 
sons appeared. One of the sons had been 
educated either in Kin-chau or Yin-kow, 
and in spite of the fact that neither could 
speak the other's language, yet by means 
of the Chinese ideographs, which they both 
understood, the Chinaman and the sub- 
altern were able to converse, if not rapidly, 
at least intelligibly. The troopers had now 
tied up their horses, and were grouping 
round their chief, watching with interest 
the strange conversation which was taking 
place. Behind them, through the torn and 
battered lattices of the women's quarters, 
could be seen the astonished and wondering 
faces of the farmers' wives and daughters ; 
while in the doorway half a dozen dirty 
and ill-clad piccaninnies were gazing with 
awestruck reverence at the strangely 



240 OF AN OFFIOSB's PATROL. 

dressed foreigners who had invaded the 
privacy of their home. The Japanese 
counts among his many good qualities an 
unparalleled love for children, and the soils- 
officier of the party seeing the little ones, 
stepped across and patted their heads, 
much to the children's astonishment and 
to the delight of the hysterical women 
behind the barrier. The dogs, too, had 
become reconciled to the presence of the 
strangers, and were proceeding to establish 
a confidence by nuzzling their boots and 
spurs after the manner of their kind. It 
was a scene that a De Neuville might have 
depicted. 

There is an impression in this country 
that the Japanese soldier, officer and man, 
is all that is perfection in the fiilfilment of 
his duties. We would hasten to assure the 
reader that the Japanese are very, very 
human, and that no mortal is perfect. A 
Japanese subaltern of cavalry in command 
of an officer's patrol is just as likely to 



OF AN officer's PATROL. 241 

make grievous errors as the young popinjay 
of a British Lancer entering upon his first 
campaign. Now there is one principle 
which youthful subalterns commanding 
patrols are very apt to forget — which is, 
that the first duty of every oflBcer, be he a 
field-marshal commanding an army or a 
lance-corporal directing a section, is to give 
his enemy the Credit of being just as astute 
as himself. Now our subaltern, although 
he had not seen the sign of a Cossack for 
hours, had no right to risk the information 
he had acquired by seeking the hospitality 
of a village. It was good for his men and 
horses to be rested and fed ; it was essential 
that he should possess himself of a guide ; 
but it was also obligatory that he should 
not run the risk of his whole enterprise 
proving jfruitless. There are ways of rest- 
ing and feeding horses even in moments 
of dire necessity, and there are ways of 
securing guides without jeopardising the 
whole of your command. It so happened 

Q 



242 OF AN officer's PATROL. 

that, although he had posted a sentry to 
his rear, apprehending that he might have 
been followed, yet he had failed to place 
a similar watch at the opposite extremity 
of the village. This slight oversight was 
to cost him a heavy penalty; but that is 
always the way in war. 

If it had not been that the old opium- 
saturated janitor had found occasion to go 
out through the gates into the street be- 
yond, it is probable that the Japanese head- 
quarters would never have heard of this 
patrol again. As it was, the old man put 
his withered head beyond the portico, to 
view a half sotnia of Cossacks galloping 
down the street. With more agility than 
his shambling gait would have suggested, 
the old man jumped back within the portico 
and slammed the great gates, fixing bar 
and bolt, — and just in time, though the 
Japanese sentry at the far end of the 
village had seen the hostile forces, and 
fearing that his comrades would be trapped, 



OF AN officer's PATROL. 243 

fired his carbine, and came galloping down 
the street shouting at the top of his voice. 
If it had not been for the old opium-eater, 
his act of self-sacrifice would have come too 
late : as it was, the sentry threw himself 
from his saddle with the intention of selling 
his life dearly, and doubtless of saving time 
for his comrades within the Chinese en- 
closure. But the Japanese are notoriously 
poor horsomon, and ia dismounting his 
foot never cleared the stirrup, and he was 
thrown headlong in the mud. A moment 
later he was surrounded by his enemies, 
and butchered as he lay. 

It did not require a square yard of ideo- 
graphs to apprise the subaltern of the 
nature of the surprise. Nor was there a 
penman left to make the translation ; for, 
like disturbed rabbits on a warren, every 
Chinaman in the courtyard vanished. 

The subaltern threw a rapid glance round 
the enclosure, and divided his five men into 
three groups. There were only two spaces 



244 OF AN officer's PATROL. 

where it would be possible to scale the 
mud walls, and theise were from the two 
adjoining roofs, which, as is common in 
Manchurian villages, prolonged the align- 
ment of the farmer's gable. He therefore 
placed a man behind each of the inner 
gates, the cracks of which served as loop- 
holes, and commanded both the salient 
approaches. The other three he stationed 
in the portico, for the purpose of sweeping 
the trees in the adjacent courtyards. He 
himself, throwing his revolver loose, made 
for the grUle in the opium -den. Four 
loathsome figures were lying prostrate on 
the bench : one of them, who was still 
sucking at the hideous spluttering tube, 
glared upwards at the intruder with a 
vacant stare; the others, saturated with 
the narcotic, were dead to the world. 
Hastily seizing a cap from one of these 
creatures, the subaltern threw off his own 
shako and covered his head with the noisome 
head-dress. He threw back the grille-oover 



OF AN officer's PATROL. 245 

and peered out. He had just one second to 
take in the scene outside, to see the mangled 
corpse of his trooper lying in the mud, and 
to estimate the strength of his assailants, 
before a bullet buried itself in the plaster 
beside his cheek and filled his eyes with 
dust. He shut back the cover, and in a 
moment it was shattered by a second bullet. 
Back he leapt — back into the courtyard — 
and joined the three men in the portico. 

The Russians were battering at the gates, 
and in broken Chinese demanding that they 
should be opened. The Japanese could 
aflford to laugh at this, for the gates of 
the Manchurian farmhouses are fashioned to 
prevent the entrance of marauding bandits. 
The Russians, too, soon recognised this, 
for the defenders could hear the hurried 
orders of the officers, and presently a shot 
from behind one of the inner gates showed 
that the Russians were reconnoitring 
from the adjacent courtyards. Whether 
the shot was successful did not matter; 



246 OF AN OFPICBR's PATROL. 

it had the effect of stopping a movement 
from that flank. Presently they heard the 
sound of movement in the next courtyard, 
and it was evident that the Russians had 
discovered ladders. The subaltern directed 
his men to hold their fire until the scalers 
were body up above the wall. 

They had not long to wait. First they 
saw three flat caps appearing simultane- 
ously, then the muzzles of three carbines, 
followed by white faces and blue tunics. 
Now was the time. The three rifles 
cracked simultaneously, and the three 
white faces disappeared instantly. Again 
• the efibrt was made, more ladders had been 
brought, and six faces rose over the level 
of the wall. The troopers fired, and the 
subaltern levelled his revolver twice : four 
of the scalers collapsed, but two reached 
the wall-coping and jumped to the ground. 
They were followed immediately by others 
behind them. It looked as if the little 
party in the portico were about to be over- 



OF AN OFFICEB's PATROL. 247 

whelmed. But the Japanese carbine-blocks 
clicked rapidly ; four more shots rang out, 
and although one more Russian jumped to 
the ground, there were only two on foot, for 
one of the first had fallen to his knees. The 
Cossacks rushed, but carbine and revolver 
were ready for them, and they dropped in 
their tracks before they had made a dozen 
yards. The subaltern went forward, hur- 
riedly reloading his weapon, to see if a 
coup-de-grdce were necessary; but he was 
satisfied in removing the carbines and 
carrying them back to the portico. No 
further attempt was made to scale the 
wall. 

Night was now beginning to fall, and 
the subaltern realised that although he 
might successfully beat off another attack, 
yet as long as he remained trapped, there 
Luld be f o means of getting his informa- 
tion to headquarters. This information was 
everything, — the actual fate of his patrol 
mattered not at all. He must formulate 



248 OF AN OFFICBB^B PATEOL. 

some plan. The straw-byres and the in- 
flammable roof of the farmer's dwelling 
oaught his eye. In a moment he came to 
a decision : he called his soits-officier to 
him, and gave him a paper upon which he 
had scrawled a rough map, and written 
his notes during their mid-day halt. His 
orders were as follows : ** We will set fire 
to these stacks and to the roof of the 
house ; as soon as they are making a good 
blaze and smoke you will climb over the 
roof, through the flames if necessary, while 
we throw open the doors and endeavour to 
escape, by that means engaging and at- 
tracting the enemy. You will get away as 
best you can with those papers, and deliver 
them to the colonel before daybreak to- 
morrow. Trust in the Emperor to help 
you." 

The souS'Offi^ier looked at him steadily 
a moment, and saluting said, "But you. 
Excellency, will be killed. How can I 
leave you? We will distract the enemy 



OF AN officer's PATBOL. 249 

while your Excellency escapes with the 
papers." 

The subaltern replied, "Brave man, I 
appreciate your motive ; but you have my 
orders ; my orders you cannot disobey." 

" But ! " 

"My orders you cannot disobey; you 
have my orders." 

The souS'officier was reduced to silence : 
he saluted, and then secreted the papers 
in his vest. 

It was now dark enough, and the sous- 
officier crept back into the opium-den and 
collected two of the smokers' lamps. With 
these they set fire to the stable and the 
etraw-ricks. Owing to the wet, for some 
time the ricks refused to bum; but the 
troopers pulled out great armfuls of straw 
from the centre, and in ten minutes the 
whole of one side of the courtyard was a 
great roaring: sheet of flame. The sparks 
L upwari, and the wind, &nnbg the 
flames, carried them to the roof of the 



250 OF AN officer's PATROL. 

dwelling. Beneath the tiles the dressing 
was dry and inflammable ; the paper win- 
dews and the wooden lattices crackled and 
burnt like tinder. There was just one 
point where the sous-officier could break 
through. As soon as he was in position, 
the subaltern called his remaining four 
men, and lining them up faced the gate- 
way. 

Already they heard the jeering shouts 
of the Cossacks outside ; the wretched 
Chinese inhabitants, from the men's and 
the women's quarters alike, were bolting 
out like driven hares and seeking shelter 
behind the inner wall. The men were 
silent, but the women were wailing as 
they saw their home gutted before their 
eyes. War is cruel and horrible — it knows 
no mercy. 

The subaltern gave the word, the bolts 
were pulled back, the bars thrown over, and 
the gates clanged open. With the national 
battle-cry on their lips the handful of de- 



OF AN officer's PATROL. 251 

voted little men dashed through the open- 
ing. A semicircle of flashes broke the wall 
of outer darkness ; for perhaps one minute 
the rifles crackled, and then all was 
over. . . . 

The sous'officier delivered the papers at 
daybreak. It is common history how the 
Japanese flank-attack marched by the way 
of the Fu-chau road and wrecked Stackel- 
burg's army at Tehlitz. What does one 
officer's patrol more or less matter? 



252 



XV IL 



THE LAST SERVICK 



Those who have made the journey from 
Chefoo or Wei-hai-Wei to Shanghai during 
the winter months know how rough it can 
be in the Yellow Sea. Viewed after the 
gigantic scale of nature, the Yellow Sea 
and Gulf of Pe-chili are but shallow saucers 
filled with water. The slightest external 
disturbance is sufficient to convulse them, 
and once convulsed the resistance from 
shallow bottom and rock-bound coast-line 
renders navigation both difficult and 
dangerous. This fact being understood, 
the reader will more readily appreciate 
the fixity of purpose which not only found 
the Japanese destroyers committed to the 
fiiry of these uncertain seas, but also 



THE LAST SERVICE. 253 

successful in navigating their cockle-shell 
torpedo craft the two hundred miles from 
their base to Port Arthur, and, in spite 
of wintry seas and blinding blizzards, 
carrying out the duties intrusted to 
them. The thoughtful naval student 
marvels at their success, yet, having re- 
viewed the circumstances, is prepared to 
condone failure. However much the 
Western expert may extend his toler- 
ance, there is one code which permeates 
the Japanese naval and military services 
which will recognise nothing but success. 

It so happened that a division of 
Japanese destroyers was launched forth 
on an expedition in the face of an almost 
typhonic blizzard. It was a storm that 
would drive every coasting steamer and 
cargo -packet into the nearest haven. 
There was not a signal station between 
Wusung and Chefoo that had not had 
the warning storm -ball hoisted for days. 
In the teeth of such a storm it is not 



264 THE LAST SERVICE. 

surprising that the division of Japanese 
torpedo craft disintegrated. Two of the 
boats, battling against the adverse circum- 
stances, were partially successful in their 
mission. Another was never heard of 
again. The commander of the fourth, 
however, having lost touch with his con- 
sorts, put into practice that virtue which 
we in the West countenance as " the 
better part of valour." 

Eight hours after he had started he put 
back into the torpedo base, and made his 
signal to the commander of the flotilla that 
the Yellow Sea, just as it has been at this 
season of the year to countless sailors be- 
fore him, was impossible. If the reader 
knows the Japanese he can realise what 
the feelings of this commander must have 
been when, twelve hours later, one of his 
consorts followed him back to the rendez- 
vous and made the signal that it had been 
successful in its mission. One can almost 
see the man standing on the bridge of his 



THB LAST SERVICE. 255 

own boat watching the little craft return- 
ing, sheeted in white from stem to stern, 
crusted like a Christmas cake with the frost 
and icicles of the frozen spume. One can 
appreciate the bitterness of his soul when 
he heard that although thirty per cent of 
the crew were frost-bitten, yet they had 
done damage to the enemy which was of 
greater value to Japan than half a dozen 
destroyers. It is during moments like 
these that a subaltern realises the true 
note of discipline. Discretion may be the 
better part of valour, but power of dis- 
crimination in such cases is not vested in 
the man who is intrusted with the mission, 
but is the responsibility of the brain that 
formulates the plan. This at least is the 
spirit of our allies' conception of service 
discipline. . . . 

A destroyer put into Admiral Togo's 
rendezvous. It slipped in through the 
boom, and, passing down the line of 
anchored battleships, slid in alongside the 



266 THE LAST SERVIOS. 

dep6t vessel. The lieutenant -commander, 
who wore two decorations commemorative 
of the Chinese war, climbed up the side 
of the mother ship and reported to the 
post captain, who commanded the whole 
flotilla. He had not been on board 
five minutes when the flag-ship's launch 
came panting alongside. The boarding 
lieutenant of the day stepped lightly on 
deck and, saluting, gave information that 
the chief naval staff officer would like to 
see the commander of the incoming de- 
stroyer. Every one of the officers who 
made the little group standing on the 
quarter-deck of the torpedo dep6t vessel 
knew what this message implied. But 
there was not a single face that gave ex- 
pression to the thoughts passing in each 
mind. The commander of the destroyer 
saluted his seniors, his face lighting up 
momentarily with the expressionless 
Japanese smile, and then accompanied 



THE LAST SERVICE, 25*7 

the boarding officer down to the picket 
launch. 

Arrived at the flag-ship, the commander 
was conducted at once to the cabin of the 
chief staff officer. That officer received 
him with all the courtesy and polite dig- 
nity which is associated with the service 
etiquette of this great people. The com- 
mander was instructed to state his story 
of his unsuccessful mission. This he did in 
a straightforward and seamanlike manner. 
When he had finished, the chief of the staff 
handed him the paper packet of cigarettes 
which lay on the table. Then drawing in 
his breath to the full extent of his lungs, 
the chief staff officer said, " Lieutenant 
Watanabe, you are relieved of the com- 
mand of your boat, and you will report 
yourself for duty to the commander of the 
gunboat OshimaJ* 

The face of the commander as he heard 
this news was as expressionless as that of 

B 



258 THE LAST SERVICE. 

the staff officer as he gave the order. 
Watanabe saluted gravely and withdrew 
from the cabin. He passed to the quarter- 
deck and joined a group of officers of his 
own seniority. They discussed the fortunes 
of the war, the prospects of the future, and 
the various topics which were of interest 
at the moment ; and then the picket-boat 
having been piped, the lieutenant - com- 
mander went over the side, smiling to his 
friends. Tet, as he passed down the gang- 
way and returned the salute of the sentry, 
to all intents and purposes he was a dead 
man. And what is more, every one of his 
friends knew this. 

The gunboat Oshima was lying in 
Chemulpo harbour. For the time being 
she was doing guardship at that port, 
while it was the sea base of the 12th 
Division of Imperial Japanese Infantry. 
The officer in command and the first 
lieutenant had gone on shore to be pre- 
sent at some entertainment which was 



THE LAST SERYICE. 269 

being given by the Japanese Consul in 
connection with the mission of the Marquis 
Ito to the Court at Seoul. Lieutenant 
Watanabe, who was now doing duty as 
second lieutenant on the Oshima^ was 
therefore left in charge. It is half an 
hour's run in a steam launch from the 
anchorage to the mud flat landing-stage 
at Chemulpo. Watanabe silently paced 
the quarter-deck until he saw the empty 
launch returning. As soon as he made 
out her wave he sent one of the watch 
to call the second engineer. When that 
officer arrived the two men paced the deck 
for perhaps five minutes, and then the 
lieutenant went below, while the second 
engineer busied himself with certain in- 
structions to the crew of the launch. In 
half an hour Watanabe returned on deck. 
He was in full dress uniform, with his orders 
upon his breast ; his sailor servant brought 
up two wicker baskets and immediately 
passed them down to the launch. A 



260 THE LAST 8EBVICB. 

muster of the crew was then piped, and 
Watanabe formally handed over the com- 
mand of the ship to the officer of the 
watch. Then, accompanied by the second 
engineer and two other junior officers, all 
in full dress uniform, he moved towards 
the ship's side. 

As he climbed down the ladder every 
hand was raised in silent salute. The 
little midshipman on the launch shouted 
"Cast off" the tiny bell tinkled, the 
engines revolved, and Watanabe severed 
his connection with the Japanese navy. 
As the boat-hook left the ship s side the 
Basing Sun at the peak was dipped. Away 
went the launch ; Watanabe, standing in 
her stem, sees and acknowledges the 
homage that the ship's company pays him. 
Away she sped, with her head pointing 
seawards towards the scene of the battle 
between the Variag and Uriu's squadron. 

The entrance to Chemulpo harbour is 
a network of rugged islets and pinnacle 



THE LAST SERVICE. 261 

rocks. For the most part these are un- 
inhabited except for a few poverty-stricken 
fishermen, and it is only the larger that 
can boast of their squalid homesteads. It 
was to one of the uninhabited islands that 
the launch made her way : she ran into 
a little cove, and the party of officers in 
the stem sprang lightly ashore. Wata- 
nabe's servant passed the wicker baskets 
after them, and then his master and the 
second engineer moved over to a little 
secluded bay. Here the servant accom- 
panied them with the baskets. Both men 
proceeded at once to divest themselves of 
their uniforms, and it was noticeable that 
Watanabe carefully brushed and folded 
each garment as he took it ofE When 
undressed both men went down into the 
sea and washed themselves all over. The 
baskets were now open. They contained 
two complete suits of pure white garments. 
Both men dressed in these, and the second 
engineer, bowing to his brother officer, 



262 THB LAST SSBVIOB. 

moved away to make some preparations 
elsewhera 

The servant was about to pick up his 
master's uniform when Watanabe detached 
the two medals from his frock-coat, and 
wrapping them in a piece of paper, in- 
structed him to take them to his home in 
Japan. "The rest/' he said, pointing to 
his uniform and his sword, " will go with 
me." 

The servant carried the personal effects 
away, and Watanabe was left alone. He 
turned and looked seaward over the dull 
grey expanse of water towards the horizon 
which stood out as the line dividing him 
from the stronghold of his country's enemy. 
He never took his gaze away from that sky- 
line until the second engineer returned and 
took him by the hand and led him to the 
place which was prepared. Here the crew 
of the launch had assembled. They stood 
round in a semicircle, and placed in front 
of them was a white sheet. At one end 



THB LAST SERYICB. 263 

was a Japanese pillow, at the other a 
little table. On this lay, wrapped in clean 
white paper, a short knife. Watanabe 
strode to the sheet ; he bowed to his com- 
rades, and they all stood at attention in 
mute salute. He then sat down and ar- 
ranged his posture so that his neck might 
lie upon the pillow. Having settled him- 
self he proceeded to unfold the lower por- 
tion of his dress and lay bare some four 
inches of skin from the waistband upwards. 
The second engineer handed him the paper- 
covered knife ; he seized it in the middle of 
the blade, and tinrning his head, bowed as 
well as he could in his prostrate position 
to his comrades. His eyes finally sought the 
second engineer's. This officer was in posi- 
tion : he stood at Watanabe's right side 
with a naked sword in his hand. At an 
inclination of the doomed man's head he 
raised the blade skywarda With one 
bold, firm, and determined action, Watan- 
abe self-inflicted a slight incision troxa left 



266 "ACTUM B8T DB ." 

ridge lay a white-carpeted valley sloping 
up, at first gently, and then almost pre- 
cipitately, to a second barrier of snow- 
capped rock. Away beyond this rose huge 
masses of volcanic debris, a frowning wall 
of Nature's ramparta But in spite of the 
chaste mantle with which the elements had 
striven to shroud Nature's handiwork, the 
whole panorama bristled with the works 
of man. There was not an eminence but 
showed by its bevelled crest -line that 
sappers and engineers had laboured to 
aid Nature in her scheme of massive 
strength. In the distance loomed great 
citadels with blasted parapet and stone- 
revetted curtain. In the middle distance 
the snow - drifts ill disguised fantastic 
patterns, whose sinuous trace betrayed in- 
genious device in modem obstacles and 
abbattis. And then at the solitary ob- 
server's feet, the plain, that should have 
been a bare expanse of winter white, was 
coursed and seamed with earthworks, so 



"actum est DB /* 267 

that with parallel and traverse, covered- 
way and shelter -trench, it gave the im- 
pression of some huge irrigation or mining 
area. 

It would be hard to find a simile to 
describe a panorama so enthralling : if you 
turned with the solitary observer and 
looked behind the knoll, the scene that 
met your gaze at once pictured a gigantic 
ant-heap : the reverse of every hill was 
teeming with thousands of human beings. 
Ant-like, hundreds of these were grouped 
beneath the crest-lines ; others were labour- 
ing in long strings, hauling supplies, am- 
munition, i ixapUmanto to va^L sum- 
mits; while far below were the countless 
tabernacles which protected the vast be- 
sieging army from the rigours of a Man- 
churian winter. A great transport queue, 
men, vehicles, and animals, was slowly 
crawling northwards, marking the channel 
which fed 80,000 men. Here and there 
faint wisps of smoke curled skyward. A 



268 "ACTUM EST DB ." 

wann winter sun gave lustre and spark- 
ling brilliance to the picture. The slow 
movement^ minute detail, and strange 
grouping emphasised the simile of an 
army of ants. 

But there are other scenes and sounds 
which dispel as an illusion the suggestion 
of a peacefiil working day. The still winter 
air quivers and vibrates as the huge water- 
shed in the west catches and hurls back 
in deafening reverberation a continuous 
din of war. Just watch that nearest 
crest-line for a moment. Flash after flash 
gleams out against the embevelled top; 
great geysers of snow and d^&m-dust 
spurt skywards to swell the lowering 
yellow cloud drifting sullenly along the 
valley. Ever and anon from the citadels 
behind, great pillars of white smoke 
unmask the batteries where Russian 
gunners ply their trade. Look down in 
the parallels below. Your ear squirms to 
the laboured whir of enormous shells as 



"actum est de ." 269 

they displace the frosty air. They strike 
and burst upon the snow, raising fleecy 
clouds, which join the shrapnel smoke 
drifting to augment the pall that shrouds 
the doomed city. From behind you comes 
the bark of field-guns in action, while to the 
left the welkin throbs with the windage- 
screech of worn howitzers. 

The hand of God had fashioned this 
scene an artist's paradise; the works of 
puny man have made it a veritable 
Hades. In a theatre so extensive and 
so Aill of fearsome setting it is difficult 
to particularise. The tumult, the awful 
consequences of the issue, the despair of 
yesterday, the hopes of to-day, and the 
terror for to - morrow so confuse and 
depress you that the panorama survives 
only as some hideous dream, For one 
second you are spell - bound with the 
spectacle of some magnificent demonstra- 
tion of military discipline and endurance ; 
the next moment you are appalled and 



270 "ACTUM BBT DB 



i> 



paralysed by some ghastly act of carnage. 
The triumphs of human intellect and the 
acme of human brutality stand hand in 
hand. It is bad to be an uninterested 
spectator of such a scene. Happy the 
man to whom it is foreign; blessed the 
country that never bred her sons for this ! 
Just follow our gaze to the foot of the 
knoll above which the solitary observer 
stands. A Japanese battery is here in 
action. The squat guns nestle beneath a 
rise. The limbers lie in a cutting behind, 
and the ammunition carriers have worn 
just half a dozen tracks in the snow, like 
sheep -tracks on the face of a Highland 
brae. As you watch you can see each 
motion of the gunners. As unconcernedly 
as if they were firing a holiday salute in 
Shiba Park they run the gun back, sponge 
it out, readjust the spade, and relay the 
piece. You are near enough to hear the 
click of the breech as it snaps home. 
You see the gun groups spring aside, — 



"actum est db f* 271 

Number One with his lanyard taut. You 
hear the quick order of the section com- 
mander, and then you strain your eyes to 
separate your individual flash from the 
score of bursting shrapnel sparkling above 
the target. The battery commander walks 
up and down behind the guns, ever and 
anon beating his arms against his chest 
to banish the numbness from his chilled 
extremities. He stoops to pick up a 
fi:ugment of a shell that exploded almost 
at his feet, tosses it away, and steps 
forward to correct a range. The Russian 
guns have discovered the battery; salvoes 
of shrapnel burst above the Japanese 
gunners. Though the spiteful crackle of 
their rapid explosions almost deafens you, 
and though you can see the snow scourged 
up all round the battery by the vicious 
strike, there is no alteration or diminution 
in the service of the guns. Three men 
and a subaltern from the left section are 
swept to the ground. The battery com- 



272 '^AOTUM EST DB 



>9 



mander was talking to the subaltern at 
the moment. He takes no notice of his 
fallen oomrade, but moves up to the 
bereaved section. He leaves two hos- 
pital orderlies, who are lying in the 
snow behind him, to judge whether the 
fallen are worthy of the hospital. More 
Russian missiles have been attracted to 
the target. Now the canopy of bursting 
shrapnel above them seems continuous. 
Then all sound is dwarfed by the rushing 
advent of a giant projectile. For a moment 
the battery is blotted out behind a great 
flash of lurid flame and pillar of smoke 
and snow. It drifts aside ; one gun of the 
battery is totally destroyed, another stands 
solitary, while the displaced snow on every 
side is blurred with mangled gunners. 
Out of this wreck the battery com- 
mander emerges, gives the order to cease 
firing, and then himself sinks motionless 
across a trail. 

We turn to the silent watcher on the 



"ACTUM EST DE /' 273 

hill-top and wonder what is passing in his 
mind. Such details as a decimated battery 
have no concern for him. He is the man, 
the one man, responsible for the success or 
failure of these stupendoui^ operations. He 
turns and walks slowly down the reverse 
of the hill. He has barely moved when a 
chance projectile bursts almost on the spot 
he had just left, obliterating the very foot- 
marks that his boots had made : he never 
turns his head. One can only conjecture 
the outcome of his short quarter of an hour 
of observation. Judging by results, we 
may hazard that he had that day re- 
ceived the whip from Tokio which apprised 
him of the menace of Russian reinforce- 
ments, — a whip that made it imperative 
that his army should seize some position 
from which it would be possible to destroy 
the remnants of the Port Arthur shipping. 
Although, as he passed down to rejoin his 
staff, which was waiting for him at the 
foot of the hill, there was nothing to be 

s 



21 A "ACTUM B8T DB ." 

read in his impaasive face, yet we may 
oonjeoture that the result of that brief 
solitary observation would be destined to 
render desolate another five thousand 
homes. Such is war I . . . 

A great white Empress liner steamed 
into Kobe harbour and dropped anchor 
in that sunny port at the entrance to 
the Inland Sea. The Company's launch 
conveyed the merry party of foreign pass- 
engers to the Bund. Here they were 
duly passed through the Customs and 
then turned adrift in the sea-town, to be 
mobbed for patronage by a concourse of 
ricksha coolies. Sturdy fellows, who by 
their employment in a treaty port had 
picked up sufficient of the foreigner's 
language to enlist his sympathy and 
to extort his money. Healthy, cheery 
children. 

One foreigner had business in the town, 
and he stepped into the nearest ricksha 
without a glance at the man who was 



"ACTUM BST DB ." 275 

to puU it. On arriving at his destination 
he turned to the coolie to instruct him 
to wait. 

" Very good, master, my number * Sixty- 
nine/ " 

For the first tune the foreigner noticed 
that the coolie was not only a well-set-up 
brawny fellow, but also that he was hand- 
some, and, for a Japanese of his class, in- 
telligent in feature. The foreigner com- 
pleted his business, and, returning to the 
street, called for " Sixty - nine." Half a 
dozen rickshas left the line of expectants 
in front of the building, and then a very 
old and gaunt coolie pushed in before 
them all, shouting in pigeon English, 
"This one. Sixty- nine have got." 

" The devil take you," said the foreigner, 
" you are not my coolie." 

The old man doffed his soup-tureen hat 
to expose the number, and burst into a 
voluble explanation. It chanced that one 
of the Japanese clerks of the establish- 



276 "ACTUM EST DB /' 

ment had accompanied the foreigner into 
the street. He immediately translated — 

"Sir, this old man wishes to apologise 
to you deeply, but it was his grandson's 
ricksha that you took. While his grand- 
son was waitmg here for you, he was 
called up as a reserve man to join the 
army, therefore his grandfather has taken 
his place.'' 

We have finished with the foreigner, and 
we will foUow the fortunes of Sixty-nine. 
The little slip of paper, issued from the 
tlegimental Depdt, had arrived at his 
home just about the same time as he had 
taken up the foreigner on the Bund. The 
old grandfather had at once hastened with 
the paper down to the station to give it 
to his grandson. One of the unsuccessful 
clamourers for patronage had advised the 
old man where the " fare " had taken 
his grandson. FoUowing this direction, 
he found his grandson waiting for the 
foreigner. Immediately the two men had 



"ACTUM EST DB ." 277 

changed clothes, and number Sixty -nine 
went straightway to his home. 

It was a poor little home, just a slight 
erection of matchwood and greased paper, 
buried amongst thousands of others of the 
same type in the most populous portion 
of the town. As number Sixty - nine 
walked up to the dilapidated verandah 
two women were awaiting him, the one 
an elderly dame in a neat gown, the 
other a slip of a child -wife poorly but 
gracefully dressed in a striped kimono. 
Both women greeted him with a smile 
of welcome, bowed low, for the courtesies 
of womanly etiquette stimulate both the 
highest and the lowest in Japan. Both 
the women knew the nature of his errand. 
The one was giving a grandson to the 
call of duty, the other a husband. But 
though their feelings were actually the 
same as those which would have torn 
Western women in similar circumstances, 
yet there is no code in Japan which will 



278 ^'AOTUH B8T DB 






allow women to show anything but glad- 
ness either in patriotic sacrifice to their 
country or in duty to their men folk. 

Tied to the back of the child- wife, and 
peeping over her shoulder, was a tiny 
little brown face. Just a microscopic imi- 
tation of the human face : it was a six- 
months'-old baby. And it crooned glee- 
fully as it recognised its father. The 
parting was to be short and undemon- 
strative; in five minutes Sixty-nme had 
collected the few personal effects that he 
wished to take with him: a packet of 
cigarettes, a few odds and ends, and an 
insignificant extract from the household 
fnnds. Sixty-nine bowed low and dutifully 
to his grandmother. Then he turned to 
his wife. Although her eyes could barely 
keep back the tears, yet etiquette forced 
from her the wifely smile, and she bowed 
lowly to her husband. For a moment he 
stood toying with the little face that 
peered over her shoulder ; the child crowed 



"actum est de . 279 

happily, and throwing up its tiny hand 
seized a tinsel ornament from its mother's 
hair. With a convulsive effort it pulled 
it out and offered it to its father. The 
ricksha coolie smiled, and taking the child's 
gift, pinned it on his breast. One more 
pat on the tiny cheek, one more bow to 
his grandmother, and Sixty-nine was gone 
to swell the army of ants which were to 
undermine Port Arthur. . . . 

A wayside station. The platform is 
teeming with a gay crowd ; the whole of 
the railway buildings are festooned with 
strings of lanterns and bunting. On every 
side children and grown men are waving 
flags with the national device — a blood-red 
spot on a white field. The white-shakoed 
policemen are good-naturedly keeping the 
crowd of gaudily dressed women and ex- 
cited children away from the two brass 
bands which have played the students from 
the neighbouring educationia.1 establishments 
down to the station. On all the houses. 



280 *' ACTUM EST DB ." 

heaped artistically on either side of the 
permanent way, are floating either the 
national flag or great paper balloons repre- 
senting fantastic dragons or sea monsters. 
This scene is the external evidence of a 
nation's patriotism. 

A bell rings in the station, the policemen 
and porters press the crowd back from the 
edge of the platform as a troop-train steams 
in. It must halt to take water. A deafen- 
ing shout of " Banzai " breaks out from the 
enthusiastic concourse; a thousand heads, 
showing the yellow facings of a Kobe bat- 
talion, are thrust from the carriage windows, 
and the soldiery give back an answering 
hurrah which drowns the united efforts of 
the schoolboy bands. Daintily dressed 
women press forward with little presents of 
cigarettes, sweetmeats, and fruit ; infirm 
and elderly veterans, who remember the 
civil war, and who have never yet donned 
European clothes, hobble with the aid of 
sticks to press a coin into the hands of the 



"actum est db ." 281 

generation that has been chosen to vindicate 
their country's honour. Younger men, with 
their breasts decked with the medallions 
that tell of a past Manchurian campaign, 
hold up infants in whose hands are those 
pretty little talismans which their wives 
have worked for the safe-keeping of those 
who go forth to war. Although the soldiers 
shout in the ecstasy of their excitement, 
yet the very scene upon the platform brings 
back to the minds of most the homes that 
they are leaving, perhaps never to return. 
The engine whistles. Officials push back 
the thronging weU-wishers, and the tram 
rolls out of the station amid the cheering, 
which voices the nation's blessing. How 
many will ever see their homes again! 
Have we not read the report that one 
regiment at Port Arthur went into action 
two thousand eight hundred strong, and 
mustered on the captured position two 
hundred and eight rank and file I . . . 
If the spectator had again climbed to the 



282 "ACTUM EST DB ." 

summit of the snow-wrapped hillock from 
which the commander-in-chief of the be- 
sieging army had made his final calculations, 
he would have seen that some movement 
of moment was in preparation. To right 
and left, almost as far as the eye could 
see, parallel lines of cordite flashes showed 
that the little gunners were doing their 
utmost. The whole atmosphere shrieked 
and throbbed with the passage of the 
iron messengers fix)m great naval guns; 
with the discordant screech of thundering 
howitzers, the vicious snap of field-guns, 
and the dull monotonous roar as the mount- 
ains gave back the culminating echoes fi:om 
thousands of bursting projectiles. 

The ridge seemed to seethe and dis- 
integrate before this appalling onslaught. 
It appeared that the very crest -line had 
been riven away. A great curtain of yellow 
picric smoke swept up as a barrier between 
the ridge and the major defences, and then 
caught by the bitter north wind that swept 



"ACTUM EST DB /' 283 

across the peninsula, it mingled with the 
coal-smoke from the harbour and was carried 
away seawards as a murky haze. Yet even 
where it was densest its breast sparkled 
and scintillated with the flashes of fuse- 
burst shrapnel which were pouring over 
the position in countless hundreds. Every 
cover behind suggested movement. The 
great army of ants was about to migrate. 

But it is not of the ants as an army we 
would write : to follow the fortune of the 
whole is but to indifferently usurp the rdle 
of the historian. Those who would know of 
war should learn of it from the standpoint 
of the humblest atom that goes to furnish 
the whole. Let us single out one solitary 
ant from these masses clinging under the 
crest -lines and the protecting cover of the 
parallels, waiting the moment to arrive 
when they shall be loosed upon that seething 
inferno which is their destined goal. 

Number Sixty - nine's teeth chattered 
as if his jaws would break. It was not 



284 "ACTUM B8T DS ." 

from fear or excitement; there were few 
amongst the two hundred men standing 
at ease in that paiticular parallel who 
were cursed with nerves, or even, if they 
had once known what fear was, gave 
now a thought for the chances of hodily 
hurt' or death. Six months ago they might 
have heen recruits, now they were veterans. 
The men stood at ease in the slush at the 
bottom of the trench, and as they stood 
the biting wind from the north blew 
through them and chilled them to the 
bone. They were awaiting the order to 
assault. Half an hour ago they had taken 
off their greatcoats and piled them in a 
casemate. They carried nothing but their 
rifles and ammunition. No wonder they 
were cold, for the wind was such that 
it would have cut through the thick- 
est Au*, and these men were clad in serge 
alone. Some stamped their feet and others 
rubbed their hands ; but for the most part 
they stood still, and betrayed no movement 



"ACTUM EST DB /' 285 

but the quivering chin. The company 
officers shivered with the men, save for the 
regimental staff, who were grouped round 
the colonel studying a rough sketch of the 
ground which any moment now they might 
be called upon to cross. 

If the foreigner whom we have already 
connected with Sixty-nine were now to see 
his man, he would never recognise in the 
thin, haggard, bearded face the same robust 
and sleek coolie who had so pleased him 
when he landed in Japan. But though he 
looked drawn and emaciated, and though 
the biting cold had changed his colour 
from full blood-bronze to greenish yellow, 
yet withal he was hard and desperate. 
The lustre in the little almond eyes showed 
that though hardship and exposure had 
wasted the flesh, yet it had brought no 
deterioration in spirit and muscle. Just 
look down the line to satisfy yourself on 
this point. There was but one wish ani- 
mating that queue of pigmy soldiery; it 



286 "ACTUM BBT DB ." 

was that the order might come speedily 
which would release them from inaction 
and the misery of its attendant cold. 

Sixty-nine's eyes were glued on the little 
casemate in front of which he stood : it was 
a mere hole excavated beneath the parapet, 
and in it crouched two men of the Signal 
Corps. One of them had his ear pressed to 
the telephone receiver. He caught Sixty- 
nine's gaze and nodded slightly. Sixty- 
nine knew what it meant : the long-waited- 
for order was coming; mechanically he 
shifted his rifle to his left hand, and 
measured the distance which separated 
him from the foot-purchase which the sap- 
pers had left at intervals along the parallels 
for the purpose of egress. The second 
signaller wrote down the brief message, 
and ran to the group of officers worrying 
the map. The colonel, who was squatting 
Japanese fashion, took the paper, rose to 
his feet, deliberately divested himself of 
his overcoat, -then running up the foot- 



"ACTUM EST DE /' 287 

hold, in a moment was standing alone upon 
the parapet. 

There was no call to attention; the 
simple order passed down the ranks, and 
in a second, like ants, the men were 
swarming over the obstacle into the open. 
In moments like these memory serves you 
badly. You might be engaged for hours 
in a hand-to-hand struggle, and then 
perhaps at the end one or two trivial in- 
cidents alone would remain in your mind. 
How he got out of the trench, or what 
happened when once he was out, Sixty- 
nine never knew. He remembered racing 
at the head of his group behind his cap- 
tain; and then his captain threw up his 
arm in signal, and the next moment they 
were all lying down in the snow. All he 
heard was the infernal tumult of the 
shells as they chased each other overhead. 
He remembered turning half over and 
feeling with his hand, uncertain whether, 
in breasting the parapet, a certain little 



288 "ACTUM EST DE /' 

tinsel talisman had not been torn from 
its place round the second button of his 
tunic 

How long they lay there it does not 
matter; but presently the captain called 
back to the company subaltern, the section 
leaders re-echoed the call, and they were 
all up, rushing for the slope above them. 
Then for the first time the proximity 
of the enemy was forced upon them. 
Like the opening of a barrage, the full 
force of a held musketry fire broke upon 
them. The swish and splutter of the 
nickel hail killed all other sounds. The 
whole column seemed to wither before it, 
and with Sixty-nine foUowing on his heels 
the officer threw himself down behind some 
rocks that appeared black and naked 
through the snow, and realised that, of 
two hundred men, perhaps fifteen had 
reached the temporary haven. 

There was no diminution in the high 
treble song of the bullets, and for the 



"ACTUM EST DE ." 289 

first time Sixty - nine looked back. It 
seemed that the whole plain was moving. 
Not alone from the parallel they had just 
left, but from all the parallels, were de- 
bouching streams of yellow men, — yellow 
in dress, yellow in skin, and yellow in 
facings. Then his officer rose up and 
stood erect. They had reached dead 
ground, and until more should also reach 
it, they would be passive spectators of 
the passage of the plain. 

But although the parallels overflowed 
in hundreds, only dribblets reached the 
dead ground. The company ensign un- 
furled the company flag, and planted it 
in the snow. The tiny nucleus among the 
rocks cheered, and as they cheered the 
prostrate men in the plain below re-echoed 
the national cry. The check was only 
temporary, for the gunners had discovered 
the works from which the flank fire came, 
and half of the guns turned their energies 
on that point. Within fifteen minutes of 

T 



290 "ACTUM BST DE 



» 



gaining the dead ground the officers were 
able again to form up the residue of their 
companies. 

Five minutes' respite, and the order 
passed down the ranks to light grenades. 
In a moment the men were stooping to 
blow the slow - matches at their waists ; 
and it was forward and up again. The 
ensign seized his flag, and with the 
agility of an antelope carried it in the 
lead. Fifteen to twenty yards and they 
were right under the parapet with its 
sandbag dressing. Sixty -nine threw his 
grenade over it, and as each panting man 
arrived at the parapet the air was filled 
with the hissing of these strange missiles. 
A moment, and then the flaxen beards 
appeared over the top of the sandbags, 
and magazines were emptied at point-blank 
range into the head of the attack. The 
ensign fell, the captain fell, the stormers 
fell in sheaves. Sixty-nine tried to scale 



"ACTUM EST DE ." 291 

the parapet, but the snow crumbled and 
gave. Then some one pushed him from 
behind, lifted him bodQy, and before he 
realised how it happened he had gained 
a foothold on the summit : he shortened 
his arnr to strike, but there was no enemy 
to oppose him. Inside the trench was a 
spluttering fire-swept hell : the grenades 
were now doing their duty, and, scared 
by this unexpected danger, the Russians 
were flying from the farther end. It 
was all over. With shouts of " Banzai ! " 
the panting infantry hauled itself up into 
the position. 

The first line of the defence was taken. 
It had cost much in the taking, but this 
was trifling to the cost of holding it. 
The Russian gunners had seen their dark- 
coated comrades streaming away to the 
second line. They had seen the cloud of 
smoke -puffs from the bursting grenades, 
and they could see the streams of yellow 



292 "AcrruM est de ." 

men entering the paralleL What the 
bayonets had not been able to do shrap- 
nel quickly accomplished. The Japanese 
officers tried to find cover for their men, 
but there was no hiding irom that pitiless 
rain of lead, and in a quarter of an hour 
the captured trenches were three times as 
full of Japanese casualties as they had 
held Russians. It was back to the dead 
ground again. And here the remnants of 
three regiments rallied, and wished for 
night. . . . 

If the cold had been miserable while 
they were waiting in the trenches, it was 
nothing to compare with the state of 
misery in which those poor soldiers found 
themselves when night fell. The north 
wind as it blew up the valley pierced 
them tp the bone ; they had neither food, 
nor fire, nor drink. Many were wounded, 
and where the blood had saturated their 
clothes the texture was frozen to the con- 



"ACTUM EST DE ." 293 

sistency of board. For the sake of warmth 
the men huddled together in groups. The 
mMSe had been too great to hope that the 
units might be disentangled. It was now 
one great homogeneous mass animated 
with one spirit, one object, which was 
to complete the work which it had 
begun. 

The fall of night had brought no diminu- 
tion in the noise of battle. The whole 
length of the lines they had so recently 
left were sparkling with the discharge of 
their own guns and with the flash bursts 
of the Russian shell. Nor were they secure 
from casualty, and ever and anon the great 
flood of weird white light from the search- 
light on Itszushan showed the gunners how 
to find them. Occasionally some massive 
projectile would tear its way into the 
centre of this mass of desperate men, 
sweeping away half companies at a time; 
mangled corpses and bursting hand-gren- 



294 "ACTUM EST DB 



ades would be scattered broadcast amongst 
their shivering comrades. 

Sixty -nine lay amongst this desperate 
medley, his hands and feet buried deep in 
the snow to prevent them from freezing. 
Then they heard the pant of climbing men 
beneath them, — reinforcements were arriv- 
ing. The oflScers along the front did their 
utmost to form the men ; it mattered not 
the battalion, the regiment, the company, 
— as the men lay they were formed. How 
it began or where the order came from or 
who was responsible, no one knew and no 
one cared. All Sixty-nine remembers is, 
that once more they were climbing upwards 
and thanking Providence for the move- 
ment which enabled them to get warmth 
again into their stiffened limbs. Up and 
up they went, past the trenches they had 
won and lost earlier in the day. There 
was no attempt at a surprise, no endeavour 
to make the effort in silence : orders were 



"ACTUM EST DE ." 295 

shouted up and down the line; men half 
crazy from the tortures they were suffer- 
ing through returning circulation were 
either crying out in their pain or laughing 
and singing with the echo of lunacy in the 
pitch of their voices. 

A dark parapet showed up in front of 
them. Suddenly it became as light as 
day : like a display of fireworks some hun- 
dred star -shells were bursting overhead, 
and as the magnesium flared up, the 
assaulters saw that the Russians were 
standing up upon their trenches prepared 
to meet them. In a moment the air was 
alive with the hissing of burning fuses, 
and a hundred petty explosions from hand- 
grenades singed the head of the assault. 
It hesitated, quivered, lacerated and 
broken, then pushed backwards, to be 
received upon the bayonets of those who 
were following behind. 

It was but a momentary hesitation, and 



296 "actum KST DB ." 

the little men came again with an im- 
petus that neither rifle -bullet, hand-gren- 
ade, parapet, nor bayonet could resist. 
As their ancestors had done a thousand 
years before, to gain a footing on the para- 
pet the Japanese made ramps of their dead 
and wounded* Number Sixty -nine had 
been in the first rush ; a bursting grenade 
had almost torn the coat off his back, and 
he had been beaten backwards with the 
rest. But as the reinforcement pushed up 
from behind, he came with it, and clutch- 
ing his rifle with one hand tried to haul 
himself up to the parapet. 

The light still held as the Kussians, to 
enable the taper bayonets in the trenches 
to do their killing surely, fired salvoes 
of star -shell. Against the white half- 
light the desperate defenders stood out 
as shadows on the crest -line; one great 
spectre made a downward lunge at Sixty- 
nine. The bayonet whizzed past the little 



*' ACTUM EST DE " 297 

man's ear, and the catch carried away 
his shoulder - strap. Dropping his rifle, 
he seized the firelock in both hands, and 
putting his feet against the rock prised 
the Russian from his balance and brought 
him toppling down. What happened to 
this enemy he never knew ; for already 
the quick hands of the assailants were 
piling the bodies of the dead against 
the parapet, and joining the rush with 
empty hands, Sixty -nine found himself 
on the summit. Was it a temporary 
purchase ? Sixty-nine was never to know, 
for he had no time to calculate. Once 
he had reached the summit he hurled 
himself into the trench beneath. As far 
as he was concerned the rest was all ob- 
literated. He heard the coarse curses 
in a foreign tongue ; he heard the shrill 
shouts of victory from his comrades ; men 
stamped on his face, and then bodies 
fell above him. As a useful ant in the 



298 "ACTUM EST DB ." 

great army of workers his piece was 
done; but he and a few mad desperate 
spirits like him had allowed those who 
came after them to make the purchase 
permanent. 

For thirty long minutes a hand-to-hand 
battle continued above him. Men threw 
grenades in each other's faces; half- de- 
mented Samurai flung themselves upon 
the bayonets of the dozen Muscovites 
who held the traverse in the trench. 

Who shall say that the day of the 
bayonet is past^ that the brutal grips of 
men in war are obsolete? Could sceptics 
have hovered above that trench-head and 
seen the shimmer of the steel as it gave 
back the white glare of the star -shell; 
could they have heard the sickening 
thud of bayonet driven home, the grate 
of steel on backbone, the despairing sob 
of stricken man, — they would never have 
preached their fallacies to a 'confiding 



"ACTUM EST DE ." 299 

world. Although there was not a breach 
that had not its cartridge in the chamber, 
the men roused to the limit of their ani- 
mal fury overlook the mechanical appli- 
ances which make war easy. They 
thirsted to come to grips, and to grips 
they came : hardly a shot was fired. The 
hand grasped firm on the small of the 
butt, when the mind means killing, for- 
gets its cunning, and fails to operate the 
trigger. 

But it had to end. The old colonel 
had fought his way through his own men 
to the very point of the struggle. He 
stood on the parapet, and his rich voice 
for a second curbed the fury of the wild 
creatures struggling beside him. 

*' Throw yourselves on their bayonets, 
honourable comrades ! " he shouted ; " those 
who come behind will do the rest." 

His men heard him, his officers heard 
him. Eight stalwarts dropped their rifles. 



800 "AcrruM bst db ." 

held their hands above their heads, and 
flung themselves against the traverse. Be- 
fore the Russian defenders could extricate 
the bayonets from their bodies, the whole 
pack of the war-dogs had surged over 
them. The trench was won. The rest 
was a massacre. ... 

We will spare the reader a description 
of that shambles as it appeared when the 
sun rose. Only those who have seen an 
abattoir in a Chicago packing-house can 
form the least conception of the spectacle. 
Upon the summit of the highest level 
of the works the morning rays of the 
wintry sun caught the white and scarlet 
of Japan's symbolic flag. On the bunt- 
ing scarlet predominates, and thus it was 
on this war -scarred crest. The virgin 
snow was stamped out, and in the slush 
and (Myris that remained, scarlet — the 
life's blood of hundreds — predominated. 
By that strange perversity which rules 
our moral code, the work of brutal killing 



"actum est db ." 301 

had barely ceased before the softer touch 
of human resolve had commenced its 
charitable operations. The surgeons and 
their orderlies were hard at work. They 
waded into the shambles and handed up 
the living when it was possible to separate 
them from the dead. On the brink of 
the parapet stood three surgeons, and as 
each mangled frame passed it was placed 
at their feet. Many and many were just 
pushed aside, for on them a surgeon's 
skill would have been but wasted energy. 
A more merciful course was therefore 
adopted. 

From a corner of the trench a clay- and 
blood-stained figure was brought for in- 
spection. The tunic was torn from breast 
to shoulder, and had frozen stiff. The 
surgeon might have passed it as a corpse 
if the eyes had not opened. He squatted 
down and pulled the stiffened tunic aside. 
"That," he said, turning to his senior, 
" was a providential escape. See, the 



302 "ACTUM BST DE ." 

bayonet caught that metal ornament, which 
took it on to the button, so that it 
glanced upwards and went through the 
shoulder instead of the lung. The man 
succumbed to a contusion elsewhere." And 
with that, a yellow ticket was fastened 
to his buttonhole; and thus it was that 
Sixty-nine was able to return in a hospital 
ship to Kobe. 



THB END. 



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